Stakeholders, entrepreneurs, and strategic foreign investors recently met in Sofia on the occasion of the CEI Economic Forum on The Challenges the CEI SMEs are Facing and the Economic Recovery of the Region organised under the Bulgarian CEI Presidency.
The event held back-to-back with the meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs on 7 November, was opened by Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Milkov and by
Mr. Alexandar Pulev, Minister of Innovation and Growth.
It aimed at creating new networks in tune with the CEI’s central mission fostering regional cooperation for European integration and sustainable development, focusing on topics such as talent as a source of competitive SMEs and economic development; access to strategic capital in the domain of future building blocks; future role of SMEs. In this setting, participants had the chance to share attractive and far-sighted ideas to be analysed by the Presidency and transformed into concrete outcomes.
CEI Secretary General Roberto Antonione and Deputy Secretary General Zsuzsanna Király, participated in the opening and attended the special Panel of Foreign Ministers and Special Guests, entitled Supporting Ukraine and addressing the wider economic consequences of the war in the CEI region. The latter gave Heads of Delegations the chance to directly address the business and talk about their deliberations during the Ministerial Meeting or deliver a statement of their choice.
SG Antonione highlighted the need to hear the voices of SMEs, understand their needs, and collaborate on the design of international cooperative actions that could bring about tangible benefits to their businesses.
"Innovative solutions and fresh ideas could emerge from open discussions: in particular, specific actions could be designed in the field of youth entrepreneurship, start-up generation and business acceleration", he stated.
DSG Király underlined that the dramatic situation in Ukraine represented a “call to action” for all of us. And that, therefore, more regional cooperation was needed. While humanitarian and security issues are the most urgent on the CEI’s agendas, economic recovery also requires cooperation across borders.
"Our multilateral platform and tools for regional cooperation can be of help to kick-start joint projects and activities addressing and involving SMEs – which shall represent the engine of the CEI Economic Dimension", she said.
The forum was complemented by the valuable participation of important partners, such as SME agencies, Trade Promotion Europe, the International Network for SMEs (INSME), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the World Bank.
This event was organised and hosted by the Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency (BSMEPA), with the support of the Ministry of Innovation and Growth Economy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria.