Practice of twinning cities from different states to be used to enhance economic cooperation and attract new investments

Skopje, 6th June 2014 (MIA) – Practice of twinning cities from different states to be used to enhance economic cooperation and attract new investments, was the message sent by the participants in the “Balkan Conference on Sister Cities, held in Skopje on Friday.

The Conference brought together participants in the student exchange program between Skopje and Tempe, Arizona, ongoing for over 40 years, after the two cities had become twin cities in 1971. They presented, together with the government and city officials, the views on the benefits from the twinning of cities and strengthening the relations in these areas.

According to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Zoran Stavreski, twinning and cooperation between Macedonian and US cities is important for further strengthening of relations between the citizens and the businesses. This will promote economic development and local economic development and will provide for job creation.

– In times when foreign investments are entering Macedonia, which are to underpin the economic potential and the competitiveness of the country, a need arises for new profiles and expertise. I believe future activities pertaining to this initiative for further cooperation between Macedonian and US municipalities should be focused thereon, since it is the best way to improve the exchange of experience, acquire not only education, but also practical experience on how certain policies are implemented in the US, in particular as regards the application/applicative research, innovations, entrepreneurship, what is the most important for and what is the driving force of the economies and what creates a dynamic economic development, Stavreski said.

Talking about the companies from the USA which have invested in Macedonia, Deputy Prime Minister mentioned “Johnson Controls”, which first built a factory in Skopje and then in Stip, with total investments in the amount of US$ 60 million and 1,850 jobs created, “Kemet Electronics” opened a plant in Skopje, an investment worth US$ 35 million with 500 jobs created, “Amfenol”, which stared its production in Kocani and 1,500 jobs are expected to be created, and “KSS” (Key Safety Systems), which is soon to commence the construction of a factory in Kicevo, creating 1,000 jobs.

Foreign direct investments in Macedonia, as Stavreski said, are a result of the active policies and the reforms the Macedonian Government implements. Since 2007, as of the first quarter this year inclusive, inflow on the basis of FDIs amounts to US$ 2.7 billion, i.e. close to EUR 2 billion.

The message to use the possibilities arising from the twinning of the cities and the exchange programs was conveyed by the US Ambassador to Skopje, Paul Wohlers. Unlike 1971, when the cooperation between Skopje and Tempe commenced, according to Wohlers, there are infinite cooperation opportunities today, thanks to the modern communication technology.

– Exchange programs can connect buyers, sellers, investors, entrepreneurs and can create special economic ties between the cities in both states. I have discovered that many cities have gained many economic benefits from the exchange through the twinned cities, Wohlers said.

All that were part of the exchange program, he underlined, should share their experience so as to achieve multiple effects. – As a representative of a municipality that has already established a twinning relationship with a city in the United States, I encourage you to invest so as to create more and better opportunities for the citizens in your city. If your city has not established such relationship, there is no obstacle to do so, Wohlers said, pointing out that the most successful programs are those with strong international relations.

President of the Tempe Sister Cities, Richard Neuheisel, said that the first cooperation between Skopje and Tempe was realized in 1971, by having the two cities mutually exchanging four students each. – We are proud of them and of all 160 people from Skopje that have visited Tempe, Neuheisel underlined, pointing out that these people have achieved a lot of success.

According to Skopje Mayor, Koce Trajanovski, twinning of Skopje with the friendly city of Tempe is an excellent example for the other of the cities on the Balkan and from the USA to connect and improve both the economic and the social climate. – In the past years, City of Skopje has experienced an intensive development thanks to the economic conditions and the investments, and it has become an important tourist destination as well. I assure you it will become even more important in the period to come, Trajanovski said.

Skopje, he went on, has established an impressive international cooperation in the past years, twinning with 18 cities, while also fostering contacts with many other cities throughout the world.

Also available in: Macedonian

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