28th April 2023, Delphi – “Open Balkan” is an initiative already showing the economic benefits for its members. Figures show increased trade, eased cross-border procedures, with green lanes introduced for movement of agricultural and food products, etc., Deputy Minister of Finance, Filip Nikoloski, who participates in the 8th Delphi Economic Forum in Greece, said.
“”Open Balkan” is not a political initiative, but rather an economic initiative committed to the four fundamental freedoms of the European Union, it is not a substitute for membership in the EU, but rather an incentive for faster integration of the region in the European Union. Therefore, having the common goal we strive for, fully-fledged EU members, as a starting point, we have put this initiative forward to accelerate the reforms and to better prepare the countries for accession in the Union”, Deputy Minister of Finance said.
Nikoloski underlined the solid growth of trade between the countries, sharing data on the total trade of North Macedonia with Serbia and Albania since the beginning of this year, which increased by more than 30%, i.e. 32.9% and 32.8% respectively.
“This Initiative is authentic, based on good faith, good will and good-neighbourly relations between out three countries – Republic of North Macedonia, Republic of Serbia and Republic of Albania. Hence, the activities we have undertaken so far, the benefits of which are felt by our citizens and the companies, include the introduction of green lanes at the border crossings, hence providing for much faster movement of agricultural and food products and 24-hour controls put in place, introduction of new procedures for border control, i.e. implementation of One Stop Shop, establishment of a single electronic system for toll collection, as well as activation of the Open Balkan Identification Number (OB ID) for the citizens, providing for they to be able work in the private sector in any of the three states, without any recognition of diplomas needed, without having to obtain various permits and without facing any other administrative barriers”, Nikoloski pointed out. He went on by saying that activities, yielding benefits, have been also launched, among which the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the tax administrations in the Western Balkans, aimed at connecting the region, jointly fighting the fiscal evasion, as well as applying advanced methods for revenue collection, transfer of knowledge and exchange of best practice and experience. Activities have been also undertaken in terms of several projects aimed at attracting investments in the field of tourism, culture, education, etc..
Open Balkan Initiative, as Deputy Minister of Finance emphasized, is also welcomed in cases of natural disasters, as well as in times of crises, like the ongoing one. Thus, our country was assisted with timely interventions during the fire outbreak in the course of the summer in 2021, while with respect to the energy crisis, joint working groups were established for providing mutual assistance to the three countries in supply of food, electricity or energy resources.
According to Nikoloski, Open Balkan is our mutual opportunity for a better future. Implementation of the Open Balkan projects, as he said, brings about better standard of living for the citizens and better quality institutions.
Delphi Economic Forum takes place from 26th to 29th April 2023 in the emblematic town of Delphi, Greece. This year’s focus is on geopolitics disrupted, climate and environment, sustainable economy and finance, social inclusiveness and technological advancement.