Over the past three years, regional economies have seen a surge of approximately 10% in growth, in stark contrast to the EU’s modest 3% increase, according to the international CORE Days Conference held in Kotor.
The conference, themed “Smart and Green Growth – Locally, Regionally, European”, was organised by NALED in collaboration with other members of the Competitive Region Partnership. This initiative received backing from both the Swedish Government, implemented through Sida, and German development cooperation facilitated by GIZ.
The conference showcased the inaugural regional index on sustainable economic development conditions, encompassing Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, North Macedonia, and Serbia. Collectively, these nations represent a market of nearly 20 million people with a combined GDP nearing 200 billion euros.
In his opening remarks, Jakov Milatović, President of the host nation Montenegro, emphasised the pivotal role of good neighbourly relations for the region’s further advancement. He expressed his keenness to restore and normalise relations with Serbia, mentioning his recent trip to Belgrade as evidence. “Serbia is our largest tourist market, and last year, our top foreign investor. Yet, we lack an ambassador and direct payment traffic. Instead of politics propelling our relationship forward, it has nearly hindered it. This is not my political vision, and I want it to change. It’s essential to remember that the EU began as a regional integration story, and that should be our path as well,” stated Milatović.
In terms of the regional index, Croatia ranked highest, followed by Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia, and lastly, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Furthermore, the conference opening marked an occasion for Niš, Paraćin, Stanari, and Srbac to be awarded the favourable business environment certificate (BFC SEE). This accolade sees them joining a network of 44 local authorities from the region that were certified in the recent cycle.