Speech of the Executive Director of the Economic Chamber of North Macedonia, Antoni Peshev, at the panel discussion: "On the road to a better connected and integrated region - What is crucial, how to get there?”, on the “Prespa Forum Dialogue”, which is held today and tomorrow in Ohrid
➢ News (01.07.2021, во 16:33:38)
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Speech of the Executive Director of the Economic Chamber of North Macedonia, Antoni Peshev, at the panel discussion: "On the road to a better connected and integrated region - What is crucial, how to get there?”, on the “Prespa Forum Dialogue”, which is held today and tomorrow in Ohrid

Dare to dream.
Dreams are going to guide you to changes.
Dare to change.
Changes are going to guide you to great actions.
Dare to act and create.
Because only the actions may change the world.
History is going to remember those who were acting and creating.
Nobody will remember those who opposed and tried to stop actions and destroy creations.

Prespa agreement is synonymous for this great philosophy. Those who were brave to step into unknown territories, to dream, to change, to act, gave us a reason to gather here today and talk for the future.
When in 2014 EU commission headed by Jean-Claude Juncker announced five years moratorium for further EU enlargement, countries of the region were under the cold shower. All their hopes for the fast EU integration were destroyed without any logical explanation and without any visible alternative and hope.

And when there was complete desperation, Frau Merkel and her initiative well known to all of us as a "Berlin process" set up a path for a completely new approach to this very sensitive issue. The proposal was simple and clear. Countries of the region should try to build their relations in a way as if they were part of the EU. The message was clear: "Build the region without borders, build the region as the global economic territory, and start to live in a manner different from the old “Balkan way".
I am proud that the economical chambers of the region responded immediately and, in a period shorter than one year, the "West Balkan 6 - Chamber Investment Forum" was established by the major chamber organizations from Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia.

This was a logical and easy step for chambers from the region, which already had excellent relations, despite the political problems and disagreements of the politicians of their own countries.
During all those years this organization, this “Regional chamber umbrella", not only managed to survive, but it contributed to the better understanding between countries in the region. It built strong links between the business operators and try to build foundations for the integrated economical space, territory without borders, customs, and non-tariff barriers.

The results are visible and measurable.

Here I would like to present to you some of the figures.
- In the period 2014-2020 regional GDP grown 28% (from 77 billion EUR in 2014 to 101 billion EUR in 2019)
- Total value of the FDI in the region reached the level of 35 B EUR.
- GNP per capita reached the level of 5,600 EUR, which is the growth of a significant 31% compared with 2014. This level is still small 36% of the level reached in the EU 27 countries.

So, I can further illustrate the benefits of regional economic cooperation, but the time limit for this my address is not allowing me to continue. I am encouraging you to visit the web page of this organization for more elaborate and analytical data.

And what to say as a conclusion of this bright positive example or regional cooperation.
I hope that governments and political authorities are going to recognize the importance of regional cooperation and follow the steps toward the political unification of the region, converting it to a region without borders, open political issues, conflicts, and tensions of any kind.
This is the only way which will show that this de facto geographical part of Europe deserves to be fully integrated into the EU, which is the desire of all these countries for almost 3 decades.

Chamber Informational department