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March 23, 2023

At quadrilateral meeting, Balkan leaders reaffirm commitment to cooperation for their countries’ and region’s benefit

Addressing a joint press conference in Belgrade at the end of a meeting hosted by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic with the Bulgarian, Romanian and Greek heads of government, Premier Mihai Tudose underscored the hands-on role of Romania, Bulgaria and Greece in Serbia’s EU integration, as this is concretely done through common infrastructure, economic development and cultural exchanges. This way – said the Romanian PM – the effective accession will be just a formality all three European Union countries here have pledged to support at their best.

In his turn, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic pointed out that four-format meetings represent the expression of the continued cooperation among Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece.

We had a first quadrilateral meeting in Bulgaria in Varna (…) and discussed multiple concrete subjects and the result of our political discussions is that we had a continuous rise in trade relations, as figures also prove it, they look good. Serbia has growing trade exchanges with both Romania and Bulgaria, but also with Greece, and we expect trade exchanges among these four nations to reach next year 3.5 billion euro. Depending on specific conditions, the rise can actually range from 6.1 pct to even 20.2 pct. I hope we have a higher success and that these political understandings will set in place a climate that allows all countries to better and closer cooperate to the benefit of all, for jobs and for bringing more money into our citizens’ pockets, the Serbian President said.

Vucic also expressed gratitude for the support offered for Serbia’s EU accession track and pointed out that this is important for the future of his country, but also for the stability, peace and predictability of the entire Western Balkans region.

Head of the Sofia government Boyko Borisov said that the projects discussed, which refer among others to transport corridors 8 and 10, are no reason of dispute with anyone.

At the same time, they prove to the European Union that the Western Balkans do not just geographically belong to the European Union, but that we are an immutable part of the European idea. And that all of us (…) together must prove wisdom and that we have learned our lessons of history. (…) What we all want is interconnectivity, infrastructure, we do not want too high roaming fees among our countries and, last but not least, we want to have a modern infrastructure and that we are able to provide an internet worthy of next century. … Now is the time to accomplish this connectivity … These are extremely pragmatic elements and we can have the chance to receive financial support, Borisov said.

The Bulgarian PM mentioned that next year Sofia will host a new meeting in the “16 + 1” format that will discuss infrastructure projects.

I would like to tell our friends in Brussels and in the EU that with us they can rely on Western Balkans and Balkans that are not problematic, but a stable, predictable [region] willing to follow all the regulations and requirements of European democracy. This means rule of law, freedom of expression and, not in the last place, higher incomes for citizens. (…) Our battle is not targeted against anyone, neither against Turkey, or Russia, the US or the European Union, it is only aimed at attracting investment and the capacity to build infrastructure, because where there are buildings and infrastructure there is no room for wars, Borisov said.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told the press conference that the format of quadrilateral meetings is “highly symbolic” given the participation of three EU member states – Greece, Romania, Bulgaria – plus Serbia, a country that plays a capital role in the development of our regions.

This symbolism carries a message that can be passed down and is extremely important as regards the past, the present and the common future of our nations. We believe that the European Union should very soon correct a serious and grave error. (…) Serbia can no longer be left outside the European family, provided that the majority of the Serbian people wants to be part of the European Union. This is the symbolism of the efforts put in by everyone, and this is the message we want to convey to you, said the head of the government in Athens.

Tsipras underscored that the Greece – Romania – Bulgaria – Serbia quadrilateral meeting is turning into a constructive and inspiring institution in the sense of community and particularly as regards the joint projects of the Balkan countries.

On Saturday PM Tudose also visited the seat of the Belgrade City Hall where he was presented the ‘new Belgrade’ project.

The Romania – Bulgaria – Serbia – Greece quadrilateral meeting is the second in this format after the one held in the Bulgarian city of Varna in early October.

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