Belgrade has proudly inaugurated the second edition of the “Wine Vision of the Open Balkans” expo, a prestigious event in wine, food, and tourism, under the auspices of the governments of Serbia, North Macedonia, and Albania. This expo is a part of the “Open Balkan” initiative.
The expo, running until November 19th, will feature over 600 exhibitors from nearly 30 countries. Notably, half of the exhibitors are from Open Balkan member countries, with 260 from Serbia, 74 from North Macedonia, and 21 from Albania.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić expressed delight at the significant turnout of both local and international exhibitors. He thanked officials from North Macedonia and Albania for their support, highlighting the “Open Balkan” initiative as a platform for wine, creating a market of 20 million consumers. Vučić announced increased subsidies for new vineyard plantations, emphasizing the rapid advancement of local winemakers in this region and globally.
Montenegro President Jakov Milatović, speaking at the opening, conveyed that the expo sends a message to the world of a collaborative and market-penetrating Western Balkan region. He thanked President Vučić for the opportunity to represent Montenegro, a small but sunny Mediterranean country proud of its wines. “The Balkans are most beautiful when open,” Milatović said, praising the mutual cooperation.
Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Dimitri Kovačevski, noted the expo as a strong stimulus for regional economies and a pathway for development. He highlighted joint achievements like toll collection and expedited truck flow, alongside cultural and tourism collaborations, building good neighborliness, trust, and a step towards the European path.
“We have accomplished this ourselves, without external aid. Through the Open Balkan initiative, we are paving ways for our companies, making our presence at such expos crucial for creating a unified Western Balkan market, and thereby joining the European market,” Kovačevski emphasized.
He remarked that the trade exchange between Serbia and North Macedonia alone has surpassed €1.1 billion, the highest in 18 years, with a 40% increase last year alone. Kovačevski stressed the benefits felt by citizens and the broader environment from this increased trade.
“This expo is more than just an event; it’s an opportunity to show that together, we can develop our economies as partners,” he added, highlighting North Macedonia’s global standing in wine exports despite its small size.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, in a video message, emphasized the need for the Western Balkan region to build neighborly relations and a communal future. “Let’s learn from others’ mistakes. Let’s work together to transform the region into a place where our children live together,” Rama stated.
The organizers have scheduled over 3,000 meetings where professionals, buyers, and sommeliers will discuss business opportunities for regional winemakers.
The expo also features talks on new EU wine labeling rules, discussions on viticulture in the digital age, and the future of sustainable winemaking, expecting four times more professional visitors than last year.