On 3 February 2014, Skopje hosted the first meeting of the Committee of National Coordinators (CNC) under the Macedonian CEI Presidency. It was opened by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Macedonia, Nikola Poposki, who outlined the main priorities of his country.
The European integration of non-EU CEI Member States is the top priority of the Presidency. Connectivity in the region related to infrastructure, tourism, agriculture, but also to the development of cultural links is another priority. In this context he outlined the important role of the macro-regions and the favourable position of the CEI in linking them. He stressed the importance for the Region to be included and integrated as a whole in some of the existing strategies (e.g. the Danube and the Adriatic-Ionian). 
Poposki also highlighted the great attention Macedonia will be paying to the CEI Business Dimension, as a third priority and announced the intention of the Presidency to organise a fruitful Business Forum, back to back with the Summit in autumn. The Minister considers the CEI as an important instrument for regional cooperation and assured that his Government would do its utmost to fulfill the mission of the CEI.
CEI Secretary General, Amb. Giovanni Caracciolo di Vietri, welcomed the well-established priorities of the Presidency and assures continuous support from the CEI Secretariat. 
The CNC focused on a number of questions such as the further strengthening of cooperation with the EU and its institutions, an increased political dimension of the Initiative, a full use of the UN observer status through an increased cooperation with its specialised agencies, etc. A number of tabled Cooperation Activities were approved and will be financed out of the CEI Cooperation Fund - to which all Member States contribute according to an agreed scale of contributions - with about 100,000 EUR. The average CEI contribution to these small-scale multilateral projects is of about 8,000 EUR. Serbia and the Republic of Moldova have recently decided to voluntarily double and almost triple their contributions to the Fund.
Last but not least, the CNC approved a remarkable contribution for six Technical Cooperation projects out of the CEI Fund at the EBRD, fully financed by the Italian Government. Three TC projects will be supported with about 900.000 EUR in Macedonia; two projects will target Montenegro and one has a regional  dimension. In this context, Caracciolo di Vietri underlined that the CEI project dimension in 2015 was perfectly in line with the priorities of the Macedonian Presidency, which has connectivity (including transport) as one of its top priorities.

The transport sector was of strategic importance also for the CEI. In fact, the development of infrastructure projects could benefit the overall economy of the country. By supporting these six new projects, Italy demonstrates the high commitment it attaches to the CEI and to its cooperation with the EBRD.

The CNC was followed by a CEI Promotional Event on 4 February, organised by the Macedonian CEI Presidency and the CEI Secretariat in order to present the priorities and programme of the Presidency and the activities of the CEI.

The next CNC meeting is taking place in Vienna on 20 March 2015.
For more information: arsova@cei.int