Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my distinct honour to address this important forum, on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Serbia. I would like, first of all, to express my gratitude to our host, Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of Turkey, His Excellency Mr. Tugrul Turkes, for the warm hospitality extended to us, which has made our stay in Turkey even more pleasurable. At the same time, I wish to take the opportunity to congratulate Government of the Republic of Turkey on effective and fruitful Chairmanship over the past six months. May I further underline that the Republic of Serbia has recognized the importance and supported the priorities of the Turkish Chairmanship-in-Office, and I am pleased to notethat we are leaving behind a semi-annual period of beneficial work of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation organization.
Regional cooperation is one of the foremost foreign policy priorities of the Republic of Serbia. In this context, Serbia supports every initiative aimed at promoting dialogue, multilateral economic cooperation and strengthening regional and good-neighbourly relations.
The prevailing impression is that our countries are committed to further intensifying their cooperation, based on mutual interests, while the Organization provides an appropriate framework for enhancing this cooperation and building confidence in the region. The importance of the BSEC is reflected in the fact that, in addition to providing a framework for the accomplishment of our economic interests, it undoubtedly contributes to the increase of stability, security and overall prosperity. It is, therefore, our special task to assess the results that have been achieved so far and provide guidelines to further develop and strength cooperation within the BSEC framework. The results accomplished in the previous period clearly confirm the potential of the Organization, while imposing, at the same time, the imperative of further enhancing cooperation and the need for implementing projects in areas of mutual interest.
This year’s observance of the 25th anniversary since the establishment of the Organization prompts us to reflect on this jubilee and, in retrospect, contemplate on all the challenges that have confronted both our Organization, and its Member States individually. We must certainly have appreciation for this period which should motivate all actors and encourage new ideas that will generate future activities and animate partners not only from the Member States, but all the parties concerned, including Observer States and participants in the sectoral dialogue. In this way, the Organization will affirm its international profile and position on the international scene.
In line with the reference to “economic cooperation” in the name of our Organization, it is necessary for it to be the protagonist of stable and sustainable development in this part of the world, by establishing contacts among economic entities. Economic dimension of cooperation plays the role of a significant and often crucial element in bringing the countries of the region closer together. In this context, we should bear in mind the strategic, infrastructural and economic importance of the Black Sea region, which is a major developmental potential in itself. The Organization should make use of this potential in order for the Member States to make a joint contribution to the fulfillment of goals that are of global and overall importance, such as the sustainable development goals enshrined in the UN 2030 Agenda. May I recall that BSEC is actively addressing the goals of sustainable development, too, through its 12 Working Groups and Related Bodies.
In this light, the meetings of this Organization should be a site where experts will exchange views on crucial issues from the domain of tourism, agriculture, banking and finance, fight against organized crime, customs, education, energy, environmental protection, health, IT, science and culture, relevant to the region.
While pointing to the significance of the work carried out by the International Secretariat in Istanbul in forging contacts, coordinating the work and reflecting on joint goals and interests, I underline the need for its modernization, in order to keep up with the times we live in. When referring to the times we live in, I believe that we all think of rational use of financial resources and an efficient and professional administrative apparatus. In order to ensure regional peace, Member States must create conditions conducive to prosperity and strengthen mutual solidarity, by developing mutual cooperation.
Finally, I would like to point to the fact that all our efforts are vitally aimed at improving our citizens’ standard of living, and that the only recipe for success in these turbulent times is for the Member States to enhance cooperation in areas of common interest, as well as to strength ties and solidarity between them.