“We encourage regional leaders to seek out opportunities to reduce trade barriers,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told The Pavlovic Today regarding the Open Balkan initiative led by the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

Formerly known as “The Mini-Schengen,” the Open Balkan initiative is equivalent to the Schengen agreement where the free movement of people goods, services, and capital is facilitated through the open market of the EU.

Department Spokesperson Ned Price introduces Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken before he delivers remarks to the media at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Freddie Everett]

Serbian President Vucic said that the Open Balkan initiative is a historic step for the region to strengthen economic ties and offer a vision for a progressive future of the Western Balkans, where the people will cooperate and exchange ideas and grow their respective economies.

“The United States wholeheartedly supports continued efforts in the Western Balkans to deepen and strengthen inclusive regional economic integration,” Ned Price told the Pavlovic Today, referencing the Open Balkan initiative in compliance with the EU rules and standards.

The three regional leaders, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Zoran Zaev, the Prime Ministers of North Macedonia, and Edi Rama, the Prime Minister of Albania, met in Skoplje earlier this month to sign the three agreements.

The three regional leaders, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Zoran Zaev, the Prime Ministers of North Macedonia, and Edi Rama, the Prime Minister of Albania, met in Skoplje earlier this month to sign the three agreements. (Photo: Dimitrije Goll)

“We encourage regional leaders to seek out opportunities to reduce trade barriers, increase economic competitiveness, and build regionally integrated and resilient economies that deliver for their citizens,” Price said.

Upon the signing ceremony of the Open Balkan agreement, President Vucic said that “we have to remain open, ready to collaborate and jump on any opportunity for an economic growth, infrastructure projects and exchange of ideas.”

“Creating a Common Regional Market – one that ensures the free movement of people, goods, capital, and services – is essential to attract investment and energize economic growth,” said Ned Price.

“The Western Balkans is a region of enormous untapped potential, embodied by the vision and efforts of its people to become a thriving and prosperous region, fully integrated into the European Union,” he concluded.

Ksenija Pavlovic McAteer

Ksenija Pavlovic is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Pavlovic Today, The Chief White House Correspondent. Pavlovic was a Teaching Fellow and Doctoral Fellow in the Political Science department...