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Southeast European Times: Second Economic Forum highlights regional opportunities

Published date: 16.11.2005 11:23 | Author: Kliping inostranih medija

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The Second Economic Forum on investment opportunities in ten Southeast European countries was held in Vienna from 7 November to 8 November. The event was attended by 200 government representatives from Albania, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Turkey, Slovenia and Serbia-Montenegro, as well as by Austrian financial experts and members of the business community.

"Southeast Europe is a region developing at a fast pace -- with 5 per cent economic growth -- and it offers good possibilities for investors," Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel said at the opening of the conference. He also expressed Austria's support for the EU accession bids of countries in the region.

Stability Pact Special Co-ordinator Erhard Busek said implementation of reforms is providing reason for optimism and is boosting economic growth.

Addressing the forum, Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic said the region has entered a phase of greater stability. SEE countries are on the road towards EU integration -- a prospect that is encouraging improved relations in all areas, including free trade, investments, energy, infrastructure, anti-corruption efforts and the fight against organised crime, he said. However, despite relatively stable macroeconomic conditions and progress in reforms, the level of foreign direct investment in the region remains below its potential, Djukanovic added.

Co-operation is especially important for small economies, such as those of the Western Balkans, since it is the only way for them to adjust to a climate of intense international competition and to harness their development and investment potential, Djukanovic said.

The coming year will be a crucial one, Djukanovic told the forum, citing Kosovo status talks and a planned referendum on Montenegrin independence as two major issues that must be resolved. In closing, he said that it was vital that the EU places the integration of Western Balkans' countries among its priorities.

The event was organised by the Vienna Economic Forum in partnership with the embassies of the ten countries and Raffeisen Bank.