The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of North Macedonia, Bujar Osmani, took part in the regular ministerial meeting of the Central European Initiative (CEI) member states, dedicated to finding ways to more successfully adapt to the new normal in the ongoing and post-COVID-19 period.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how vulnerable we are as countries when facing the challenges it produced, and this particularly rings true for us, the countries of Southeast Europe. However, at the same time, the pandemic has indeed demonstrated that we possess both the will and the capacity for taking a European approach to addressing these challenges through effective cooperation, as well as cooperation with the institutions of the European Union, said Minister Osmani, outlining the challenges that lie ahead for the region in the coming period such as enabling free travel for citizens and uninterrupted transport; strengthening trade and opening tourism capacities as an element of economic cooperation; exchanging information and best practices within health protocols, and building epidemiological knowledge.
- As a new government, we have set good neighbourly relations highest on the list of our foreign policy priorities while placing a special emphasis on intensifying and supporting regional cooperation, which corresponds to the topic of this current forum, said Osmani, stressing that regional cooperation should be seen through the prism of and in support of the EU enlargement policy towards the countries of the Western Balkans, for which he expressed his hope that it will remain a priority of the Union over the forthcoming period.
In their addresses at the Meeting, the CEI Ministers emphasized that the main priority in dealing with the pandemic remains the health of the citizens and minimizing the consequences on the health systems, but at the same time they emphasized that restarting the economy and addressing the social implications of the economic downturn are becoming key challenges in the period and lying ahead.
The Ministerial Video Conference is part of the regular annual meetings organized by the CEI Chairmanship-in-office. In addition to the Foreign Ministers of the 18 member states of the Initiative, the conference was attended by other senior representatives of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the World Health Organization, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, the Regional Cooperation Council and the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi .