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Vucic, Rama and Zaev agree declaration on 4 key freedoms; Set one goal for the end of 2021

The meeting was held at the Officers' Pavilion of the Petrovaradin Fortress

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A trilateral meeting of Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia was held in Novi Sad this morning. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said after the meeting with the prime ministers of North Macedonia and Albania that the talks were held for the benefit of the citizens of all three countries, and that the goal of all three is for "the borders of our countries to be crossed only with ID cards" by the end of 2021.

"The document you will see is based on the freedom of movement of capital, goods, services and people, because people in our countries deserve a better life and less unemployment," Vucic said at a joint press conference, emphasizing that these were the key freedoms, i.e. values which are internationally accepted and promoted by the EU.

At the same time, he emphasized that besides the citizens, this agreement will also bring benefits to the economies of these countries.

At the next meeting, to be held in Ohrid on November 10, the three countries will come out with the most concrete measures, announced the president of Serbia.

Aleksandar Vucic, Zoran Zaev, Edi Rama

Photo: Tanjug/Tanja Valic

After the meeting with PMs of Albania and North Macedonia, Edi Rama and Zoran Zaev, that was dedicated to discussion about removing barriers to economic cooperation, Vucic said that it was agreed that after the hard work over these two days the participants would speak briefly, not because they had nothing to say, but to keep recorded only the essence.

"Many will call our meeting in Novi Sad, a city known for its spirit of tolerance, revolutionary. This was a meeting of great importance for the three countries, and undoubtedly for Serbia," he said.

What has been agreed is of great benefit to our citizens in all three countries, because they are convinced that citizens deserve a better future, a higher standard of living, an incomparably lower unemployment rate.

The reforms, he added, have reached a certain stage, and now in a new way through better regulation of relations, they will jointly act to boost the economy.

"The goal is to create conditions by the end of 2021 to be able to cross all our borders with just the ID card," Vucic said, recalling that we don't have the ability yet to travel to Albania with an ID card.

He expressed his belief that the this possibility would be agreed on during the upcoming meetings.

"We believe that we can cut short truck waiting time at our borders, because according to the World Bank our trucks lose 26 million hours at the border. That would be great savings, and there would be more money for the wages," he explained.

Aleksandar Vucic, Zoran Zaev, Edi Rama

Photo: Tanjug/Tanja Valic

He said that barriers would be removed through the formation of clusters which would facilitate the crossing, and facilitate the movement of goods and people.

"It won't be as simple when it comes to capital, but I'm sure that in the years to come we can change that as well. What we've done is of decisive importance, and we fight for the interests of our countries in a concrete way," he said.

He said it won't take a year to hold the next meeting, as it has been agreed to hold it in Ohrid on November 10, when the three countries plan to come out with the most concrete measures.

Vucic said that the desire is to bring down the unemployment rate for the Western Balkans, which is now 19.1 percent.

"We are open to partners from the Western Balkan Six, but we've initiated this and we want to set the rules, while everyone is welcome," said Vucic.

He stressed that the three countries are on the EU path and on behalf of Serbia expressed his expectation and hope that the Union would open membership negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania.

"That's our hope, expectation and wish, but also our plea and request to the EU, because the citizens of the two countries deserve it," said Vucic, adding tha ift negotiations are not opened this time, it won't be the fault of the citizens of North Macedonia and Albania but rather, the EU has its own internal reasons why the decision may be different.

For us in the region, he underlined, the most important thing is to deal with essential issues.

"What we are doing and what we will be doing is absolutely essential for our economic and any other progress," the president of Serbia underlined.

He thanked Rama and Zaev for spending a day and a half in Serbia and expressed confidence that mutual cooperation would be ever closer and better for the benefit of the citizens.

"Can you imagine having one job market? Competitiveness is increased, solutions are easier to come by and there are no problems. Anyone who has a work permit in Skopje also has it in Belgrade, those who have it in Belgrade, have it in Tirana... These are fantastic things, if we manage to solve it... And, the plan is to solve it by 2021," said Vucic.

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"Mnogi će naš sastanak u Novom Sadu, poznatom po duhu tolerancije, nazvati revolucionarnim, mislim da je sastanak od izuzetnog značaja za naše tri zemlje, za Srbiju nesumnjivo. Dokument se zasniva na implementaciji četiri ključne slobode, koje su međunarodno prihvaćene, koje promoviše i EU, sloboda protoka kapitala, roba, usluga i ljudi. To radimo zarad velike koristi koju će imati naši građani, zbog toga što smo uvereni da ljudi u našim zemljama zaslužuju bolju budućnost i viši životni standard, zaslužuju neuporedivo nižu stopu nezaposlenosti. Važno je regulisati naše međusobne odnose za ubrzani rast i održivi razvoj svake od naših zemalja i da u mnogo čemu zajednički delamo. Ukoliko sklonimo barijere to znači više posla za naše ljude i veće plate. Za nas je od presudnog značaja što smo radili na konkretan način i što smo se borili za interese naših građana. Za nas je najvažnije da se bavimo suštinskim pitanjima, konkretnim merama, ovo je esencijalno za naš suštinski napredak. Uveren sam da će naša saradnja biti sve bolja, bliža i da ćemo mnogo koristi doneti našim građanima. Možete da zimislite da imamo jedinstveno tržište rada, povećava se konkurencija, lakše dolazimo do rešenja, to su fantastične vesti." - Predsednik Vučić nakon trilateralnog sastanaka sa predsednikom Vlade Republike Severne Makedonije Zoranom Zaevom i predsednikom Vlade Republike Albanije Edijem Ramom.

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Rama: The region needs to move forward, the meeting was of great value

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama announced today, after the trilateral meeting with officials of Serbia and North Macedonia in Novi Sad, that the region desperately needs to move forward and that an initiative, known as "the little Schengen" is open to everyone in the Western Balkans.

"This is not a meeting that happened suddenly and I would like to clarify that it doesn't aim at any exclusivity, on the contrary, it's a step that has been taken to ensure a generally inclusive process, and you can read in the declaration that we are talking about the six from the Western Balkans throughout the text," emphasized Rama.

Rama said that open issues that exist at the heart of the region should not prevent the parties from "agreeing to disagree on some issues," as well as agreeing on what concerns all citizens.

At the post-meeting news conference, Rama thanked Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and North Macedonia Prime Minister Zoran Zaev for the meeting, which he said was of great value and would have a significant outcome.

He said that the presidents agreed to uphold the principles of the joint declaration, whose title, he said, speaks for itself -and that's implementing EU's four fundamental freedoms in the Western Balkans.

Rama said that all countries must do more for their citizens and for the benefit of the free movement of people, goods and services, as well as capital in this territory.

"It is enough to just give you one example to understand how desperately we need to move forward, which is the 26 million waiting hours spent at border crossings," said Rama.

Rama recalled that an action plan for a regional economic area was agreed at a meeting of the Berlin Process in Trieste in 2017, but that two years later, not enough has been done that would translate into economic growth, more interaction and greater integration.

"The goal which gathered us in this format is essential, and that we are moving forward more speedily, with better coordination, so that these processes that are on paper are approved more than once. Let's not let others do this for us," Rama said.

At the end of his address, he recalled an Albanian proverb:

"Only the one who owns some things puts them into action."

Aleksandar Vucic, Zoran Zaev, Edi Rama

Photo: Tanjug/Tanja Valic

Zaev: The Balkans is no longer a powder keg, but a region of peace and development

Prime Minister of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev announced today that together with Serbia and Albania an initiative is being launched today on stronger regional integration, sending a message that political relations in the region are becoming more simple, that the Balkans is no longer a powder keg but a region of peace, stability and economic development, of the 21st century, dedicated to a better life.

He is convinced that with this initiative, the region will be more respected, more competitive in the world and more attractive to the Balkan citizens to stay and live in there, and to foreign investors to make plans based on a wide range of our resources.

"We have a lot of potential that we can use, and thus we will gain more respect from the EU as well," he said.

At a joint press conference with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama in Novi Sad, he invited others from the Balkans to join the initiative becaus the Balkans is an inspiration for advancing cooperation.

"We must invest much more in intensive work rather than being complacent with what has been achieved to date. Our region definitely needs to improve cooperation with regard to the implementation of the four fundamental freedoms - free movement of goods, services, workers and free flow of traffic," he said.

Aleksandar Vucic, Zoran Zaev, Edi Rama

Photo: Tanjug/Tanja Valic

"We've defined the next meeting in Ohrid where we'll continue with concrete steps and we hope to announce concrete results and sign agreements," Zaev added.

He added that North Macedonia, as a candidate country for EU membership, is also co-chairing the Berlin Process along with Bulgaria, which will give a new impetus to increased regional cooperation - something that he said everyone in the region strives towards.



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