London, 24th February 2014 (MIA) – The future of the region is in the EU, and the mutual cooperation is an inevitable part of that process. Usage of the economic potential of the region with joined forces and attraction of possible investors is the path to economic growth in the region. The countries, through regional cooperation, practically manifest the unity, leading the region towards the EU and the European standards and practices of cooperation.

This was stated on Monday by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski at the London Conference organized by EBRD, where he is taking part together with his counterparts from Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Albania and Kosovo.

He stressed that the region was a favourable investment destination, adding that in the past years, there was progress in terms of stability, safety and implementation of fundamental economic reforms. He said that EBRD was all this time one of the biggest supporters of the region, investing over EUR 10.5 billion.

– In the past few years, the Government of the Republic of Macedonia implemented profound political, economic and social reforms. Those related to the economy were aimed at finding solutions to key challenges – preserving macroeconomic stability, creating new jobs, reducing unemployment, maintaining an adequate level of fiscal and budget deficit, improving the business environment and investment climate, boosting export and tourism promotion, Prime Minister Gruevski said.

By pointing out that the regional cooperation in the field of infrastructure and transport paved the way towards stimulation of the overall economic and social development of the countries in the region, he said that the construction of highways Kicevo-Ohrid and Skopje-Stip commenced with a favourable loan from China, being vital segments of Corridor VIII, and announced that in March, construction activities would start to reconstruct the railways along this Corridor towards Bulgaria, being funded by EBRD.

As regards Corridor X, a Project co-financed by the EC, which should be completed in 2016, he said that the final 28-km section was being constructed.

– When talking about the future, energy and innovation have our support. These projects are our top priority. We started the realization of these projects and we are committed to their completion in the next several years. Cebren and Galiste and Vardar Valley projects are also part of our priorities. Energy efficiency is something that is constantly on our list of priorities. Our vision for this sector is to efficiently use energy beyond the borders, Prime Minister Gruevski said.

He added that Macedonia, with respect to energy, after signing an agreement with the Russian Federation to join the South Stream international project, would obtain long-term energy stability, being coupled with the project for construction of gas infrastructure in the Republic of Macedonia, for which efforts would be made to provide funds, among the other, through EBRD as well.

With respect to the energy-related projects, he also mentioned the construction of the first wind park, which will provide additional quantities of electricity. Construction of 400 kW long-distance power line Republic of Macedonia – Serbia should start soon, we are finalizing the study for construction of 400 kW long-distance power line from Bitola to the Albanian border, which should be completed by 2017. Construction of Boskov Most Hydropower Plant as strategic energy project, worth over EUR 100 million, should start this year and should be completed in 2016, with EBRD funds, Gruevski said.

He went on that EU membership was Macedonia’s strategic goal and that in this respect we are working on all necessary preparatory activities to wrap up the process. EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti pointed out that EBRD was supporting the economic progress of the region and that EBRD was a bank investing therein, being the reason why it is convinced in its potential.

Last year, EBRD invested EUR 1.2 billion in more than 80 projects in the Western Balkans. So-far total investment of EBRD in the region, for all these years, has amounted to around EUR 10.5 billion.

EBRD has been operational in Macedonia since 1993, being one of the largest investors in the country. As of June 2013 inclusive, it has approved 82 projects estimated at EUR 2,174 million. Majority or 56% of the projects are in the field of infrastructure, 26% in the energy field, 11% in the financial sector and 6% in the industry, trade and agrobusiness.

Prime Minister Gruevski, in the afternoon, will meet members of the House of Lords in the UK Parliament, where the possibilities for increasing the British support in the European and Eeuroantlantic integrations, will be considered.  

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