By Blerim Abedini- Center for Security Studies and Development- Macedonia (CSSD)
The Western Balkans is moving to their position of socio-economic, cultural, educational and political stability. Is hard to forget historical moments brought by wars and victims of freedom. But Society doesn’t know else than progress.
The process of transition in the Western Balkans countries has transformed region into a marketplace with dynamic growth, by attracting a significant amount of foreign direct investments. Foreign investors will find in the Western Balkans a high qualified worker which is professional gift from ex-Yugoslavia. If we look backward for a while, market of Western Balkans countries were significant place in developing of western developed states. Western economies in past had dependence for these products coming from Western Balkans industries. Now, the Western Balkans regions has particular interest for attracting investors by serving them, with preconditioned ambience for realizing business activities.
The Balkans countries were supported with funds over the past 25 years during the economic transition. Key players include International Monetary Fund, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, European Central Bank, European Investment Bank, and World Bank, as well as bilateral country donors and private and voluntary sector institutions.
Between 2014 and 2020, the European Union plans to grant 1.5 billion euros (around $1.7 billion) to Serbia, a prospective EU member, and 11.4 billion euros to Bulgaria, a current EU member.
Also European as American engagement will be in favor to Balkans countries for their manner of approach. Progressive assisting with various programs by educational, cultural, social, economic and political context. With connection and services to rise civil societies as Non-Profit Organizations for efforts on their contributions for raising society. All these efforts are contained in the integration process which define European Union as common. So, EU would like to see Balkans in same step because of responsibility for equal economic increase to regions with needed reforms on their society. In this context political borders of EU tomorrow could rise its borders to real geographical, known from schools as the Continent of Europe.
But if we look for any credentials as it belongs to education, culture, Non-Profit Organizations, we will find weakness on this social ‘market’. Russia has same past by looking into political chronology within ex-Yugoslavia but, with different development. The Western Balkans was prosperous than Soviet Union due to independence and high level of economic difference of ex-Yugoslavia. Furthermore Russia had debts in past to the Yugoslavian Federation which debt is still active in the national banks.
So, for any positive and progressive steps in the Western Balkans are necessary other steps which means multi-dimensional involvement, as social ‘capital markets’. Russia in this context is looser.
We will find most engaged the Americans belong to the fields of involvement as are culture, education, economic development, social programs, and relations with Non-Profit Organizations by helping these in realizing their programs about progressive democracy, sustainability, peace, etc.
Also NGO’s could find more benefits and information in officials of Foreign Department as it is US Embassy. So, I think we have to keep consideration foreign engagement in the multidimensional fields of society.
Turkey has invested $1.1 billion in Bosnia with a gross domestic product of about $18 billion, since 1995 year. Turkish FDI by 4.7% was directed at the Balkans countries, between 2002 and 2012 years. Turkey, encourages trade and investment, construction of a motorway, airlines, banks, various chain stores, hotels and marina management. Some businesses and services include: Enka construction, Calık Holding, Ziraat Bank, Natron Hayat, Tosyali Holding airports management, etc. Turkey’s trade volume with the Balkans increased from 2.9 billion dollars in 2000 to 17.5 billion dollars in 2012.
Turkey has historical attitudes to those regions due to cultural reflection through history. Today, we hear that Turkey likes to save old traditional cultural activities of past by reaching these with similar cultural, educational, socio-economic programs. Also is positive approach of Turkey when, collaboration with civil societies in the Western Balkans are seen in various fields. We may think that Turkey has multi-dimensional engagement for raising and helping the path of transitional societies in the Western Balkans.
The EBRD is one of the largest investors in the Western Balkans. In the 2015 year the bank has invested around a billion euro in projects as are energy efficiency, infrastructure, financial institutions and agribusiness. The Western Balkans Investment Summit in London was, meeting of the prime ministers of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia for attracting investors for developments of transport links, energy projects and privatization. Here are included the Nish-Prishtina highway and an electricity transmission line between Macedonia and Albania. Also, the vision of integrated market- stock exchanges in the Balkans where Serbia and Slovenia confirmed their interests SEE Link which primary was established by the Bulgarian, Macedonian and Croatian officials.
The International Monetary Fund, IMF, noted that economic recovery of Kosovo is evident with economic growth for 2015 estimated at 2.4 per cent. The IMF noted that parliamentary crises could hold investors- foreign consortiums for Brezovica, as major tourism investment project.
The “Western Balkan Six” conference in Brussels is important for developments in the regional transport network, by 130 million euros investments from pre-accession IPA funds, which will increase over the coming years. The idea is to link up capitals, major cities and airports in the region, enabling faster economic progress. For the network to be complete, the Balkan countries need to complete all the investment projects and meet the required technical standards by a target date of 2030.
The summit in Vienna as part of the Berlin Process, started on August 27, 2015. In the focus are six Balkan countries- non-EU members. The summit has announced that European institutions will grant around 200 million euro for 10 transport and energy infrastructure projects. The total value of the agreed projects is around 600 million euro.
The projects will be co-financed under Instrument IPA, the Western Balkans Investments Framework and by European financial institutions such as the European Investment Bank, the EBRD, and the German government bank KfW. Also is significant the meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Western Balkan countries, that was held in Durres, with efforts on advancing European integration processes including cooperation, democracy, security, stability and prosperity. Also commitments to the ‘Berlin Process’ and the agenda of regional interconnection are key following factors for economic growth.
The next summit is scheduled for France in July 2016 and will focus in following areas:
- Full implementation of measures agreed at the Vienna Summit so that all energy and infrastructure projects find appropriate funding in 2016; New focus on youth including student programs and professional training; Resolution of bilateral issues in the region; Cooperation among Western Balkan countries and the EU, the refugee crisis and fight of terrorism and violent extremism; Need for active participation of civil society as a facilitator in the qualitative implementation of agreements those are regionally reached.
Commissioner Hahn expressed the support of the European Commission to finance up to 150 million euros at the Paris Summit for projects as master plan in the field of hydropower and strengthening existing energy networks.
The progress is evident. The Western Balkans is moving to their position of socio-economic, cultural, educational and political stability. Is hard to forget historical moments brought by wars and victims of freedom. But Society doesn’t know else than progress.
People are going forward by looking in the raising effects of life. Due to progress, people are changing mentality due to democratic prosperity, by differentiating negative targets which proposes a political group. In this bipolarity of political interactions it is easier to find moderate and traditional positive viewpoints.
Between all foreigners in the Balkans, business and economy is doing own ‘job’. The market will attract own progressive target group as unseen process.
Balkans societies will require and recognize these rational investors which are coming from developed societies by representing democratic values and who are factors for reflections of cultural, educational and social values. So, progress in full meaning understands transparency on approaching as responsibility to own property. The evaluation and estimation of foreign investors is hidden from resident citizens. The successful investor need to invest in whole market as ‘social capital market’ to gain resident’s trust.
Balkan Leaders Discuss Energy, Transport at Summit, 23 Feb 16 http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/energy-and-transport-dominate-ebrd-s-balkan-summit-in-london-02-22-2016#sthash.W83Fg9ts.dpuf
Deepening relations between the Balkans and Turkey: Economic growth and patterns of development, May 11, 2015, http://foreignpolicynews.org/2015/05/11/deepening-relations-between-the-balkans-and-turkey-economic-growth-and-patterns-of-development/
Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Western Balkans held in Durres.March 30, 2016, http://europeanwesternbalkans.com/2016/03/30/meeting-of-ministers-of-foreign-affairs-of-the-western-balkans-held-in-durres/
NOTE: The research paper is product of the Center for Security Studies and Development-Macedonia (CSSD) 2016