The BiH CEI Presidency organised this year’s Meeting of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the CEI Member States on 16 June in Banja Luka, back to back with the 4th Meeting of the Committee of National Coordinators (CNC).

The gathering was opened by H.E. Igor Crnadak, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who highlighted the importance of regional cooperation in particular in the framework of the CEI, a long-standing intergovernmental forum fostering cohesion and integration among its Member States.
The Ministers were called upon to discuss various ways and means of facing the migratory crisis, including exchange of views on the lessons learnt and best practices with regard to respect for human rights while fighting against terrorism.

They also discussed the strengthening of regional cooperation in sustainable development through better business links and stronger connectivity, in particular in the transportation and energy sectors. In this context, the Ministers talked about a possible follow-up to the CEI-EBRD Conference with Chinese officials “Supporting Local Enterprises and SMEs along China’s Belt and Road Initiative in South Eastern Europe”, held in Trieste on 19 May 2016.

The macro regional approach in European integration processes and the role of the CEI were also touched upon. In this regard, EU Comissioner Hahn while recalling that “the implementation of the EU Strategies is, and will always be, under the ownership and full responsibility of the participants with the European Commission acting as a facilitator of the entire process”, he also underlined that “The Central European Initiative has played a significant role in promoting this ownership.” He also pointed out “that building and connecting transport and energy infrastructure is a key to reinforcing integration among the Western Balkans and with the EU, thus driving forward their European perspective through concrete projects. This means focusing investments on establishing and improving transport and energy infrastructure and networks, to strengthen the economies' backbone of competitiveness.”

In his speech, CEI Secretary General Giovanni Caracciolo di Vietri underlined that “The need for more cooperation, more synergies, more interaction among the institutions involved in the fascinating endeavour of regional cooperation is obvious: we can accomplish our missions only in cooperation with others”. Moreover, he pointed out that “The European integration of the Western Balkan countries is on the top of our Agenda. The Eastern dimension of the Organisation too. In this context, we are closely following the situation in Ukraine and we are particularly eager to embark on the Belarus Presidency. For Belarus it will be the first time to exercise the CEI Presidency, after exactly twenty years since its accession (in 1996), and this decision confirms its commitment to the Initiative.”

Furthermore, the Ministers discussed the CEI Plan of Action 2017-2020, to be adopted by the end of the year, in order to tackle the above-mentioned and other hot issues.

They also adopted the Decisions on Belarus holding the CEI Presidency in 2017 and on the Cooperation Fund budget for 2017.

The Ministerial Communiqué adopted at the end of the meeting is available here.

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family photo

from left: Gentiloni, Poposki, Crnadak, Makei, Caracciolo di Vietri