London hosted the leaders of the six Western Balkans countries this week in a series of meetings and events aimed at examining and encouraging their economies and their alignment to the West’s values and democratic systems.
On 26 February the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development organized a business conference which aimed to highlight potential investment and business opportunities in the region and promote the inflow of foreign direct investment and cross-border projects.
The EBRD is a leading institutional investor in the Western Balkans. To date, the Bank’s investments in the six countries of the region (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, FYROM, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia) are over €10 billion in some 600 operations.
Later that day the six leaders were welcomed to Downing Street by Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, for talks ahead of the Western Balkans Summit in London in July.
At a reception Mrs May briefed the visiting leaders on the UK’s objectives for the upcoming Summit. She said: “Our relationship endures because all of us in this room share the same vision for the future of the Western Balkans. We want a peaceful, prosperous and democratic region – one anchored to European values and systems and contributing to European security.
“The countries of the Western Balkans have tremendous potential. By putting in place the governance, rule of law and institutions to support prosperity and by building relations between your countries that shape a promising future for all.”
She pledged to support them in all that, saying that their challenges were the UK’s challenges too: “European security, serious and organized crime, illegal migration, terrorism and extremism; these are all threats that go beyond borders.”
Theresa May added: “At the Summit we will take forward a bold agenda. One that promotes economic stability and fosters co-operation on the security and political challenges that the region continues to face.
“We will continue the good work begun by previous Summits, taking forward initiatives countering corruption, serious and organized crime, and other issues that deter investment and economic growth.”
The leaders from the region who attended were: Edi Rama, Prime Minister of Albania; Denis Zvizdic, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina; Ramush Haradinaj, Zoran Zaev, Prime Minister of FYROM; Prime Minister of Kosovo; Dusko Markovic, Prime Minister of Montenegro; and Ana Brnabic, Prime Minister of Serbia.