The Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Vincenzo Amendola, participated in a Ministerial Meeting of the Central European Initiative (CEI) in Minsk on Wednesday 22 June. CEI, the intergovernmental forum on regional cooperation, was chaired by Belarus this year, in preparation for the upcoming Summit on the Western Balkans which Italy will host in Trieste. Italy is among the founding countries of the Initiative, the first contributor and home to the Secretariat, and currently holds the rotating presidency.
Topics on the Minsk agenda included the current international situation, the migration crisis and threats to security. A debate was held on the Berlin Process whose summit will be hosted on July 12 in Trieste. The meeting also highlighted the importance of the CEI Fund at the EBRD, totally funded by the Italian government. The CEI Plan of Action 2018-2020 was examined and it was agreed to hand over the presidency to Croatia in 2018.
The Assembly also called for approval of the guidelines for CEI reform during the upcoming meeting of heads of government of the Initiative's member countries.
In his address, Undersecretary Amendola underlined the importance of the role carried out by CEI to promote adhesion to the European Union of countries not yet EU members. The Italian government dignitary also underlined the importance of regional cooperation, fundamental to the provision of a joint response to the major international challenges. Mr Amendola said that Italy is committed to enhancing its efforts for an effective implementation of energy and transport projects, using the tools envisaged by CEI and other regional organisations with similar goals. Economic development is also based on the centralising of infrastructures, which implies connecting markets in the region to the rest of Europe for greater integration and faster growth, thus providing new investment opportunities to small and medium-sized enterprises.
The Undersecretary promised that these themes will be discussed during the upcoming Trieste Summit, where Italy expects to achieve concrete results, working towards a European future for the Western Balkans Region. "We are convinced," said Mr Amendola, "that European unification is a strategic choice." On Friday, the Undersecretary will continue with his mission in Minsk, where he will hold bilateral talks with Belarusian institutional representatives.