Some time ago we barely met and rarely did we sit together on the same table. What has been going on in the past three-four months is the new reality, the new picture of the region. The implementation of the Declaration for the four EU freedoms in the Western Balkans adopted last month in Ohrid is already delivering results for our citizens and for the economies, underlined the President of the Government of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, on the press conference for the third meeting of the WB leaders which today took place in Tirana.
This morning we visited Durres and I am still under strong impressions of the tragedy and the devastating disaster that happened in this town. This beautiful town which was struck by an earthquake; it is a tragedy that will be remembered for many years to come. Being immediate neighbours we will continue helping as much as possible and as much as needed. I appeal to all citizens, to the leaders of the business community in North Macedonia to continue the solidarity and to offer the much needed help to the citizens of Durres and other places. The tragedy in Durres stimulated us to include mutual support in natural disasters and emergencies as yet another pillar in improvement of our cooperation in the region”, said Prime Minister Zaev on the press conference while adding that in February in Belgrade, the competent institutions in each of the WB countries will sign the Durres Protocol for cooperation of the directorates for protection and rescue.
Prime Minister Zaev mentioned the accomplished concrete steps of this initiative, such as the 24 hours functioning of the border controls for phyto-sanitary and veterinary controls; the completed negotiations between North Macedonia and Serbia and for construction of new border crossing Lojane – Miratovac, as well as the agreement between the customs administrations of North Macedonia and Albania for One Stop Shop on the border crossing Kjafasan, as the one with Serbia on the border crossing Tabanovce.
“The main objective of these One Stop Shops i.e. border controls with one stop is for them to soon become Non Stop Shop i.e. border crossings without stops. The introduction of paper free system that will simplify the customs procedure will also have its contribution. In that line, we need to emphasize the recent decisions made within CEFTA during the Albanian presidency, especially the decision for automatic recognition of authorized economic operators”, said Prime Minister Zaev while adding that these initiatives are focused on the citizens from the whole region and the Memorandum for Free Movement of people using only ID and unification of the procedures for issuance of work permits for all citizens in the WB countries is in their interest.
“We have agreed to start a process with which the citizens from other countries, outside Europe, who will enter a given country from the WB region will not undergo additional customs control, should they cross into another country in the region”, underlined Prime Minister Zaev.
Furthermore, Prime Minister Zaev said that the leaders in the meeting in Tirana agreed to ask the EBRD to include the WB countries as participants on their February Conference devoted to energy.
The regional cooperation is part of our efforts to join the EU, said Prime Minister Zaev, to secure strong economies and more integrated and inter-connected region.