Who is bothered by the Open Balkans initiative and why?

The Open Balkans initiative which stipulates a single labour market in Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia is a thorn in the side of several Western countries, including the UK, which seems to be pushing for the initiative to fail.

Come this or next summer, workers from Serbia will be able to look for a job and earn a living somewhere on the beaches of Albania or the lakes of North Macedonia.

According to the same principle, young people from Tirana or Skopje will be able to look for and find a job legally somewhere in Serbia, This is just one of the results of the Open Balkans initiative, initiated by Albanian and Macedonian PMs Edi Rama and Zoran Zaev, respectively, and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

“The British are the most persistent in their intentions to bring the Open Balkans initiative down. They are exerting a lot of pressure, especially on North Macedonia, which is the weakest link in this initiative after the departure of Zoran Zaev and the appointment of economist Dimitar Kovacevski as the new Prime Minister on 17 January this year. Bulgaria and Romania are under the great influence of the West and economically stronger Serbia does not suit them; the pressure is on both Vučić and Rama to stop the project,” an unnamed diplomat has said.

Although the Serbian leadership is trying to resist these pressures, Russia’s attack on Ukraine and the ensuing crisis have delayed some planned events. Although the representatives of Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia had planned to hold a new meeting in mid-March as part of the initiative, it was agreed that due to the war in Ukraine, the meeting will be postponed until May, so “everyone can focus on creating conditions for the smooth functioning of their respective economies and monitor the effects and consequences of the war in Ukraine on the market”.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia (PKS) says that for businessmen and companies from the three states involved, “this initiative is and will be sustainable”, however, “we are witnessing tragic events in Ukraine, with nobody being able to predict with certainty the consequences of which on the European and global economy”.

The Western Balkan economies, as well as those of the three countries of the Open Balkans initiative, are mostly focused on the European Union, which is their main external trade partner and investor.

(Blic, 18.04.2022)



This post is also available in: Italiano

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