After delivering the welcome speeches by BEF`s President Sasho Kjosev and EAR-AER`president Nelu Neacsu, the conference was official with the opening speech by Mr. Henri Malosse, Honorary Member of the European Academy of the Regions and the 30th president of the European Economic Social Committee, entitled: “Economic benefits of closer economic cooperation between EU, Balkans, and Asia”.
The conference first panel “Prospecting new economic opportunities to create sustainable Balkans-to-Asian value chains” included the following presentations:
1. Mr. Zoran Martinovski, World Bank group expert with the topic: The Chinese economic agenda under the Belt and Road Initiative in the Western Balkans: Challenges and opportunities for the WB6 countries from the emerging economic linkages with China;
2. Ms. Roxana Minzatu, former Minister for European Funds at the Government of Romania with the topic: Building bridges and navigating crises: social economy as a model of resilience and inclusive digital transformation.
The conference second panel “Addressing challenges for stakeholder collaboration under emerging new realities” included the following presentations:
1. Mr. Attila Galambos, Chair of the Western Balkan Committee of the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry with the topic: Various dynamics in Asia-WB6 economic cooperation;
2. Mr. Dumitru Tudor JIJIE, PhD, Associate professor, Director of the Centre for Balkan Studies, University Alexandru Ioan Cuza IAȘI – ROMANIA with the topic: “Linking Southeast Asia to Western Balkans – why and how EU should support it”;
3. Mr. Hriday Sarma, Founder & Team-Coordinator at Caucasus-Asia Center, frontier markets analyst, and sustainability professional with the topic: “Connecting opportunities in frontiers of Asia with the Western Balkans“;
4. Prof. Shahab Enam Khan, PhD, Department of International Relations, Jahangirnagar University Bangladesh with the topic: “Prospects for Global Economic Partnerships in Bangladesh in the post-Covid 19 phase“.
The conference third panel “Strategizing the pathway for Western Balkan to Asia business ties” included the following presentations:
1. Mr. Darko Angelov, former Ambassador of North Macedonia to Hungary, Kazakhstan and Greece and Council of Europe program manager for Russia with the topic: Making Geography Work for Increased Balkans and Asia Business Relationship: The Case for Logistics and Transport;
2. Mr. Drilon Iseni, CEO, Economic Chamber of Northwest Macedonia with the topic: Overcoming trade barriers as a crucial process in penetrating the attractive Asian Market;
3. Mr. Manish Kumar, Deputy Director at Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) with thetopic: Prospecting New Economics Opportunities to create Sustainable Balkans-to-Asia Value Chains;
4. Mr. Pavel Ustiuzhaninov, Head of the Center for Strategic Development of the Russian-Chinese Chamber with the topic: Global Activities and Prospects for business cooperation with the Russia-China Chamber.
This event is a move towards drawing the attention of the two geographically distant regions about the opportunities that exist for cooperation and development, especially in perceiving the Balkans as a “land bridge” between Asian countries and the EU.
We hope that through this conference, we will inspire representatives from the economic sectors of Asia and the Balkans to envision a shared future of collaboration for mutual economic growth and the common good. Economic growth, prosperity, and progress are only possible with communication and collaboration. The “Balkans to Asia” conference will open new horizons and perspectives of economic prosperity for both sides in that collaboration.
“The aim of the European Academy of the regions is to promote the idea of regionalization and of regional action as a tool for employment and wealth creation. One of the approaches we apply is by building trust and a strong business network for our members and partners for the long – term. This was the main reason why the European Academy of the regions joined this worthy initiative so that we can offer our experiences in creating prospects of new economic opportunities and sustainable value chains between the Balkans and Asia.” said EAR-AER`President in his opening speech.