Willkommen auf den Seiten des Auswärtigen Amts
Good afternoon, it’s great to have another Tirana Connectivity Forum. I congratulate the organisers, the Cooperation & Development Institute and their media partner Euronews Albania for not allowing the pandemic to stop this highlight of the regional calendar. I also thank the partners and supporters of the event, in particular the German Political Foundations, for their contribution.
The South East European Six – I like this term – are located in the inner courtyard of the European Union. The strategic importance of the region for the EU has been clearly recognized before and during the current Corona crisis.
The pandemic is putting a huge burden on all countries, societies, economies. During the pandemic it has become clear again that the EU is by far the closest and most active and reliable partner for the region. The already implemented huge short term acute medical assistance programmes of the Union (about 50 mil. Euros in ALB alone) and the mid- and longterm Economic and Investment Plan are a witness of this.
EU Member States have bilaterally accompanied and complemented the EU efforts, Germany alone has invested nearly 5 billion Euro in the SEE 6 since the fall of the Iron Curtain, out of which a considerable amount was directly related to infrastructure and connectivity. The German Government and the implementing agencies GIZ and KfW will continue to engage and invest in the region in the perspective of its EU integration.
Politically, Germany remains committed to the Berlin Process, we are looking forward to the upcoming summit in Sofia to endorse a new Action Plan for a Regional Economic Area (MAP REA).
In terms of fostering connectivity in the region, the Berlin Process has had tangible deliverables. We are proud that the Western Balkan Fund and the Regional Youth Cooperation Office, are operable and contributing to bringing the people in the SEE Six closer together.
In the context of the current German EU Presidency the intense preparation for the first Intergovernmental Conferences with ALB and MKD is ongoing. Regarding ALB, I remain optimistic that the set of conditions that apply before the first conference can be fulfilled soon and I call again on all political actors and on all involved institutions to engage in this national priority.
I am looking forward to a lively and fruitful discussion, stocktaking of the pandemic and looking to the future: all the best for this year’s TCF!