From the Trieste conference an invitation to greater protagonism of Italy in the Balkans

From the Trieste conference an invitation to greater protagonism of Italy in the Balkans
From the Trieste conference an invitation to greater protagonism of Italy in the Balkans
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Italy can play a fundamental role in the Balkans, both economically and diplomatically. This is the picture that emerged today from the work of the national conference “Italy and the Western Balkans: growth and integration” organized in Trieste. Our country wants to return to acting as a protagonist in the Balkans, going to occupy a political space of mediation that should not be left to other countries, such as Russia and China, according to the Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani. Italy and Europe, in Tajani’s view, must become privileged interlocutors for the countries of the area, pushing to speed up the times for accession to the European Union of the candidate countries. In particular, the minister reaffirmed the government’s firm stance on Italy’s participation in the dialogue for stability. “France and Germany – he said – they tried to be the only interlocutors, we said that there could not be a European and American initiative on the Balkans without the Italian presence”. Italy, Tajani said, must guarantee a European presence aiming at stability. “There is a great desire for Italy. And also in the Balkans, there are great opportunities, a great political role to play”, underlined the minister, adding that he wants the Western Balkans to become part of the European Union. Also for the European Commissioner for Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi, there is a need for “more Trieste, more Italy” in all the Balkans. “Italy is a fundamental partner, it is one of the founding countries of the EU, a large EU state”, said Varhelyi, convinced that on the European accession process of the countries of the region “together we can do much more than done so far”.

“This day is not ‘one off’ but a fundamental step in developing a multifaceted presence of our country in a region that is particularly dear to us. If we are present politically, with our businesses and with our military forces of peace, there is no danger. This is why Italy and Europe must be more present”, added Tajani, anticipating the desire to organize a meeting of foreign ministers in Rome in the coming months. Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Albania on the Pan-European Corridor. Meanwhile, the first appointment is for March 21 at the business forum in Belgrade, which will be followed by a second in Pristina. “We must have a strong dialogue with Serbia because we want it to look more towards Europe and less towards the East, but we too must show interest in all these countries. We will continue to be politically present in the Balkans and to work to strengthen dialogue and peace”. The day saw diplomats, representatives of the world of economics, banks and the production system take turns on stage to discuss relations between Italy and the Western Balkans and the prospects for collaboration and economic growth. The ambassadors of Italy in Albania, Bosnia and Eregovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia discussed the promotion strategies of our country, to intercept new sectors of economic collaboration. According to the Italian ambassador in Serbia, Luca Gori, “we must renew our economic presence in the country, moving from traditional sectors, such as textiles and automotive, to new sectors, such as digitization and agriculture”.

Indeed, the prospect of a stronger link with the Balkans interests many Italian companies that have started an internationalization process. For Alessandra Ricci, CEO of Sace, Italy has ample room for development for its exports in the area. “We know that today Italy expresses around 14 billion in exports, and the region (of the Western Balkans) it imports about 180 billion. This indicates that there are wide margins for development”. The Intesa Sanpaolo Group’s development strategy in the enlarged Mediterranean also moves towards the Western Balkans. “This region is assuming growing importance: just think that the Mediterranean represents 1 percent of the earth’s seas, but 20 percent of world maritime traffic and 27 percent of container line services pass through it”, he explained Marco Rottigni, Chief International Subsidiary Banks Division (ISBD) of Intesa Sanpaolo. The role played by Italy in favoring an acceleration of the integration process would be “beneficial for the region but equally for Europe” also according to the managing director of Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, Dario Scannapieco. “Cassa depositi e prestiti has a two-phase strategy: in the first few years we want to go to work in these countries with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank (beautiful) and the European Commission. We already have initiatives on the ground in the Western Balkans with the EBRD and the European Commission”, said Scannapieco. “In the second phase, our idea is to open offices in the Balkan regions, on the southern shore of the Mediterranean and in the Middle East where Jordan and Lebanon are located”.

In short, the growth, but also the security of Europe depends on the stability of the Balkans. A situation made even more evident in the last twenty years by external pressures, uncontrolled immigration and the fragmentation that has characterized the entire area. The president of Fincantieri is convinced of this, Claudio Graziano. “Europe has a great commitment to the Western Balkans to create and maintain stability and security. After the Ukrainian crisis, further forms of destabilization have come from Russia and must be countered with the EU’s commitment to development, a choral commitment which involves Italy as the closest country, as a country part of the Adriatic, a country which it has always had privileged relations with the Balkans”. According to Graziano, “the EU can no longer delay incorporating these countries, the alternative is for them to fall under the control of someone who at this moment would be really harmful to international stability”.

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The article is in Italian

Tags: Trieste conference invitation greater protagonism Italy Balkans

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