SOFIA, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) — A high-level conference on the regional integration of the Western Balkans was held on Thursday, organized by Bulgaria and the World Bank in a bid to tap the economic potential of this European region.
“All Balkan countries should be like the fingers of the hands — every finger is important, no matter how big it is,” Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said at a joint press conference during the event.
“We have to be together,” Borissov said.
The countries in the region had to convince Brussels that they could bring prosperity, not problems, added Borissov, whose country will chair the Council of the European Union (EU) in the first half of 2018.
Political leaders such as Montenegrin president and the prime ministers of Albania, Serbia, and Macedonia attended the conference.
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said that the leaders of the countries in the region were on the right track to prove that the Balkans can look and work much differently from the past.
“I think that the region is coming together in a way that has not been seen in the past. It is very positive,” she said.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama echoed that just three years ago, this process of regional cooperation in the spirit and vision of the European model had seemed impossible.
European aspiration of their peoples has brought together all the leaders of the Western Balkans in this process of standing together for integration and interacting together for common challenges and goals, Rama said.
Kristalina Georgieva, World Bank chief executive officer, said that there was enormous potential in the integration of the Western Balkans.
With regard to transport links, the movement of goods and people in the Balkans should be accelerated by building a quality infrastructure and the implementation of smart technologies, Georgieva said.
The World Bank in particular was ready to finance a trade and transport project worth 150 to 200 million U.S. dollars that would help…