Skopje, 22 january 2024
Dear Prime Minister Kovacevski,
Director-General for Neighborhood and Enlargement Negotiations, Mr. Koopman
Dear Assistant to Secretary of State, Mr. O’Brien
Director/Deputy Managing Director Europe at the EEAS, Mr. Makovec
Thank you for gathering us here to discuss about the EU Growth Plan for the Western Balkans.
Last year, in October, at the Berlin Process Summit in Tirana I expressed our support for the EU Growth Plan based on the four pillars. We believe that the European Union can both reform and enlarge and that the benefits of the European Union Single Market must be linked to economic and democratic reforms.
Berlin Process, came out of certain lack of the sense of urgencies for enlargement, whereas now Growth Plan comes out of the sense of urgency for enlargement, at large extend due to the Russian aggression continuing in Ukraine.
This meeting comes after the meeting at the level of Finance Ministers held also here in the North Macedonia on the 17th of the November and after the meeting of the 24th of November in Brussels, where a series of reforms have been discussed by three cabinet ministers and my first deputy prime minister.
As we speak, our team is finalizing our reform agenda and will submit it to the EU.
This comprehensive reform agenda seeks to further reform public administration and advance public financial management. It places a special focus on the green agenda and digitalization. In the private sector area, it strives to enhance investments and exports and further increase access to finance. It aims at ensuring quality education and alignment with labor market needs. And most importantly, this reform agenda will further advance the fight against corruption and organized crime and strengthen the protection of fundamental rights.
We are also preparing an indicative list of projects aimed at closing infrastructural gaps and boosting economic development, to be financed to the Reform and Growth Facility, subsequently accelerating growth and convergence with the European Union.
We fully endorse the approach which conditions EU funds with EU values; increases the benefits for all citizens of the Western Balkans Six now, and at the same time accelerates full membership into the European Union for those who are committed.
We believe that membership in the European Union should be driven by merits and based on values. This Growths Plan is not just a possibility for reforms and economic growth but also a chance for closer regional cooperation and integration among the Western Balkan countries. We must, therefore, be constructive in our engagement and conscious of the transformative power of our decisions.
As shown in the last three years with the improvement on democratic and economic indicators, Kosova is ready for reforms. For the region to integrate economically and for the citizens to get closer security threats must seize. Deeper integration and increase of flow of people and goods requires mutual trust and normal relations among our countries, institutions and our people. This cannot happen if the freedom of goods is used to move weapons and ammunition or to sponsor terrorist attacks. Normalization of relations based on mutual recognition, I believe, is key to unlock the potential of region and increase the well-being of our citizens.
Membership in the European Union is fundamentally a choice. In a liberal democracy the power of government is limited by the rule of law and the freedom and rights of individuals are protected by the constitution. European Union represents also a strategic choice of the leadership of a country.
It is our job, therefore, to deliver on the reforms and meet the conditions and for the European Union to judge on merits and guard the EU fundamental values.
Thank you very much!
Last modified: January 23, 2024