Foreign Ministers of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy, Germany, Kosovo*, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia participated in the 7th Aspen Southeast Europe Foreign Ministers’ Conference in Berlin on 24 November. The Conference was organised by the Aspen Institute Germany in cooperation with the German Federal Foreign Office and the Italian Embassy in Berlin. The part of the event open to the public included two panel discussions – one dedicated to attracting investments and improving the legal and business framework in the Western Balkans (WB); and the Southeast European Foreign Ministers’ panel discussion on Euro-Atlantic integration in times of crisis.
 
CEI Secretary General, Amb. Giovanni Caracciolo di Vietri, participated in a discussion dedicated to attracting investments, underlining the CEI long-term partnership with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
 
“The CEI could be instrumental to Europe’s support to a major structural transformation in the Western Balkans. In particular, the CEI can contribute to improving the investment climate in the WB through its close and fruitful partnership with the EBRD, dating back to 1992 when the CEI Fund at the EBRD was established by Italy”, said Amb. Caracciolo di Vietri, recalling that priority countries of operation also included CEI members involved in the Eastern Partnership (Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine).
 
The CEI SG also underlined that for each euro allocated by the Italy through the CEI Fund at the EBRD, 215 euros of EBRD investments followed, resulting in an overall investment of 4.8 billion euros  – a notable ratio which could serve as an example for other donors interested in attracting investments in the Western Balkans and ready to provide grant-type financing.
 
Finally, Amb. Caracciolo di Vietri highlighted the competitive advantage given to the CEI by its two-faceted nature, acting both as a platform for dialogue and cooperation among its 18 Member States and for managing funds. “This unique balance of responsibilities has helped us develop valuable skills to engage successfully in policy dialogue”, he concluded. He then added that the CEI was willing to further expand its cooperation with reliable players committed to enhancing the investment climate in the WB.
 
Deputy Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), Gazmend Turdiu, Director General of Confindustria Balcani, Roberto Mascali, and Vice President International Regulatory Affairs at Deutsche Telekom AG, Joachim Haas, also participated in the panel.
 
The second part of the Conference, the Ministers’ panel dedicated to Euro-Atlantic integration, tackled a number of key geo-political issues, including the implications of the migrant crisis on the WB countries and the repercussions on the region due to the  tensions between the Euro-Atlantic community and Russia.
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  The CEI Fund at the EBRD, entirely contributed by Italy, aims at assisting the Bank’s countries of operation in Central and Eastern Europe in their economic and social transformation process. Since its inception, Italy has contributed 39.5 million EUR to the Fund, the majority of which has been allocated for Technical Cooperation projects to which the Fund has committed around 24 million EUR.
 
* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.






 

regional cooperation for European Integration and sustainable development