EU nudges western Balkans toward economic reform


Improving the financial climate will attract investment, the Union said. In other business news: Bulgaria and Macedonia seek more funding for Corridor 8.

The EU believes that financial reforms will mean a better business climate and greater economic prosperity in the western Balkans. [AFP]

The EU urged western Balkan countries to proceed with economic reforms and improve their economic climate in order to attract more investments. Countries in the region will also be asked to draw up action plans on public financial management. The statement came during a European Bank for Reconstruction and Development conference attended by prime ministers of the region and potential investors in London.


Greece posted its first current account surplus since official data began in 1948. According to Bank of Greece data in 2013 the country had a surplus of $1.65 billion due largely to a 15 percent hike in tourism and a slump in imports.


A new Centre for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Employment (KEA) opened in Cyprus to combat recession and unemployment. The centre's goal is to facilitate collaboration between business, the educational community and the public sector in order to deal with the effects of the economic recession.


Bulgaria's and Macedonia's top diplomats sent a joint letter to EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule and Regional Policy Commissioner Johannes Hahn asking for more European funding for Transport Corridor 8. They sought the bloc's support for the construction of a high-speed rail that will connect Sofia and Skopje as part of the project.


Serbia and Macedonia discussed ways to boost trade by eliminating tariff barriers. At a meeting in Belgrade, Serbia's Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and Macedonia's Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki stressed the importance of road and rail route infrastructure between the two countries, as well as connection systems for power transmission.


Saudi Arabia is interested in the privatisation of Greek energy companies and would like to have closer co-operation with Athens on energy issues, officials said. In particular, it expressed interest in the field of energy sufficiency and renewable energy sources.


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Vjekoslav Bevanda, chairman of Bosnia and Herzegovina's Council of Ministers, and Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos welcomed the idea of building an Adriatic-Ionian motorway that would open new prospects for trade and boost the region's economy. Bevanda stressed the idea has already been discussed and welcomed by his counterparts in Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro and Albania.


Bulgarian company Filcab will invest 3.5 million euros in an electronic materials production facility in Macedonia's village of Vizbegovo. The facility will create 100 jobs and will work to meet the needs of the local market.

(Various sources -- 20/02/14-26/02/14)

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