- General framework
The Adriatic and Ionian Initiative (AII) is an intergovernmental forum for regional cooperation in the Adriatic and Ionian region.
The AII was established on 19th-20thMay 2000 with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of six Adriatic and Ionian Countries (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Slovenia) signing the "Ancona Declaration" on regional cooperation as an instrument to promote economic and political stability and the process of European integration. The original members of the AII were later joined by Union of Serbia and Montenegro, in 2002 (following the separation of the two countries in 2006, both Serbia and Montenegro remained AII members) and by the then Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, in 2018, under the auspices of the Italian AII Chairmanship. It is worth noticing that this last development was among the confidence building initiatives agreed between Skopje’s and Athens’ Governments, a few weeks in advance the signing of Prespa Agreement that led to the change of the official name of the country into “Republic of North Macedonia”.
The decision-making body of the Adriatic Ionian Initiative is the AII Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs (Adriatic and Ionian Council), meeting yearly - most recently on 24th May 2018 in Catania - and whose agenda is elaborated by the AII Committee of Senior Officials, meeting three times a year.
The "AII Round Table" (RT) is the typical event where AII countries share experiences and establish synergies in the four sectors of reference: fishing and sea economy, energy and transport infrastructures, environment, sustainable tourism. Particularly, the AII Round Tables serve to promote cohesion policies in the Adriatic-Ionian basin, also through the involvement of civil society representatives from both economic and cultural dimensions, and in particular through the Forum of the Adriatic and Ionian Chambers of Commerce, the network of the Universities of the Adriatic-Ionian region (UNIADRION), and the Forum of the Adriatic and Ionian Cities.
The AII Round Tables offer to Civil Society Fora (Chambers of Commerce, Cities, Universities), associations, NGOs, local administrations and firms, a unique opportunity to meet personally and to share ideas, projects, initiatives, recommendations, for networking and creating new partnerships for macro-regional projects, with a direct linkage between the AII RTs and the EUSAIR Thematic Steering Groups (TSGs) as an added value.
The AII sectors of activity are consistent with the European Union Strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian Region (EUSAIR), one of the four macro-regional strategies together with the strategies for the Alpine region, for the Danube region and for the Baltic region. EUSAIR, launched by the European Union in 2014, is structured around four pillars: blue growth; connectivity; environmental sustainability and environmental quality; sustainable tourism.
Topics discussed by AII Round Tables were progressively adapted to the EUSAIR structure, following its entry into force, and linked to the thematic priorities of the EUSAIR pillars, thus strengthening the relationship between AII RTs and EUSAIR governance.
The AII, as a regional forum for intergovernmental cooperation, grants a strong intergovernmental anchorage to the EUSAIR Strategy. In this sense, after the adhesion to the AII, the relevant procedures have been launched for the inclusion of the Republic of North Macedonia into the EUSAIR Strategy.
In recent years, in line with Italian expectations, the AII has definitely consolidated its ambition to serve both as intergovernmental forum and as a pivot supporting the European perspective for non-EU AII countries, which consider the Initiative as an intermediate step in their EU integration path.
- The role of the AII Permanent Secretariat
Since June 2008, upon decision of the AII member Countries, a Permanent Secretariat for the Adriatic and Ionian Initiative has been established and operates in Ancona, supported by the Region Marche, the Municipality of Ancona, the Polytechnic University of Region Marche, the Chamber of Commerce of Region Marche and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation through the "Foundation Permanent Secretariat of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative", established in Ancona in December 2010.
The Permanent Secretariat facilitates the AII work by providing logistical and administrative support to the rotating chairmanships and ensuring the continuity across presidencies. Currently, the Italian Ambassador Giovanni Castellaneta is heading the AII Permanent Secretariat.
- Priorities of AII Chairmanship of Montenegro
The AII Chairmanship changes annually according to an alphabetic criterion, rotating generally between May and June. From 1st June 2018 to 31st May 2019 Montenegro holds the AII Chairmanship. From 1st June 2019, Serbia will take it over. In principle, as EUSAIR Presidency rotates following the same alphabetical order, AII and EUSAIR chairmanships are held by the same Country.
The AII Chairmanship of Montenegro, for the period 1st June 2018 – 31st May 2019, intends to strengthen the AII and to continue promoting good neighborly relations and cooperation in order to accelerate regional development and economic growth. The AII Chairmanship of Montenegro pays great attention to connecting and integrating the AII to the EUSAIR Strategy, completing the progressive alignment of the Round Tables to the Thematic Reference Groups and improving political dialogue and cooperation between AII/EUSAIR countries. At the same time, Montenegro Chairmanship supports the promotion of EU acquis and values and the EU perspective for non-EU AII Countries, to get momentum in the perspective of EU enlargement and integration process.
Together with the typical AII cooperation fields (such as blue growth, environmental and civil protection, transport and energy connections, sustainable tourism and culture, inter-university cooperation, etc.), the current AII Chairmanship underlines the importance of dialogue with civil society through cooperation with the Adriatic-Ionian Fora (Cities, Chambers of Commerce and Universities). Other thematic priorities are “Youth” and “Fight against corruption”.
Particularly, some relevant initiatives organized by the Montenegrin Chairmanship, beyond traditional AII Round Tables, are:
- the institutionalization of the meeting "“AII Troika plus Permanent Secretariat", a new mechanism foreseeing two annual meetings (one in Ancona and one in the country holding the chairmanship) involving past, present and future AII chairmanships in order to ensure the continuity of AII work across presidencies;
- the XVI Conference of Presidents of the Parliaments of the AII Countries (17th-18th of March;
- a Ministerial Conference on Youth, in cooperation with OSCE on 4th and 5th of April;
- a regional conference dedicated to fight against corruption, on 16th-17th of April;
- the traditional meeting of the AII Ministers of Foreign Affairs (AII Council) to be held on 7th and 8th of May, closing the Montenegrin chairmanship (this meeting, as the three previous ones, will be held on the coastal city of Budva).
For further information about the Adriatic and Ionian Initiative:
Adriatic and Ionian Initiative – Permanent Secretariat (AII-PS)
Via della Cittadella, s.n.c - Ancona (IT)
Tel. +39 071 2073715
Fax. +39 071 2076976