The Minister of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Hykmete Bajrami, was a panelist in the panel “Economy is an engine - Determination of regional priorities”, at the "Vienna Economic Talks – Investments and Regional Cooperation", that was held today in Vienna, under the auspices of Vienna Economic Forum (VEF).
Initially, Minister Bajrami expressed her gratitude to the organizers for their great contribution to the development of Balkans, and particularly for their support to Kosovo during the last decade, which is the reason for Kosovo's participation in the Vienna Economic Forum since 2006. This is the first International Organization, which Kosovo joined in the capacity of an independent state. “As a representative of the Government of Kosovo, I am proud that my country is already widely recognized as a partner and contributor of stability and regional initiatives” – stated the Minister.
We believe in competitiveness, and continuously invest financial and human resources to improve the quality infrastructure and to implement international standards.
Being a small Balkan state, in the suburb of Europe, we are aware that we need to work more and grow faster in order to achieve European Standards of income and productivity. This is our target, and we are undertaking the necessary reforms in terms of improving the investments climate, which will enable a high economic growth rate, and will ensure job generation at the pace of European trends.
In her speech, the minister asked for EU countries direct support through seasonal job opportunities for Kosovo citizens; whereas she considered the removal of the visa regime as an opportunity for more exchanges and partnerships between Kosovo and the EU. We are aware that visa liberalization will not resolve all our problems, but will give the citizens and businesses the freedom to move, like all other citizens of Europe, and also benefit from an open market whose part we are.
Regarding the macroeconomic and fiscal stability, Kosovo is in a good position. This fact was also recognized by our international partners. Recently we signed the IMF agreement on Stand-By Arrangements.
Minister Bajrami, reporting on the infrastructure progress achieved in Kosovo, spoke about the construction of the Kosovo-Albania highway which will continue to the border with Serbia. She also mentioned the commencement of investments on the Skopje-Pristina highway.
Through a public-private partnership we also managed to have a modern airport; however, our budget does not allow the extending of the railway system and its connection with important railway corridors. This is a very large financial commitment for a small economy like ours; therefore we will need external support to improve this significant transportation infrastructure. Whereas, regarding the energy sector, with the support of German Government, Kosovo and Albania are working on constructing a 400 KW transmission line. The implementation of the project has already commenced. We are also in the process of completing the transaction on constructing a 600 MW power plant in Kosovo.
Minister Bajrami informed the participants that the new Government is seriously committed to create a better business climate that will be attractive to foreign investments. We have drastically improved our ranking in the World Bank doing business index, and we are aware that there is much more to be done in order to establish a more stable and reliable environment.
We remain committed to a further integration of Kosovo's economy into regional, European and international markets. Through our active participation at the CEFTA and other regional mechanisms, we are attempting to eliminate obstacles and provide free movement of goods within, and outside our country. Currently we are negotiating services trade within CEFTA. We are also an active member of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), which is playing a significant role on further integration of our region. Meanwhile, we are preparing to implement the Stabilization and Association Agreement, immediately after its signing and ratification by EU and Kosovo institutions – stated the Minister.
The minister also expressed the commitment of the Government of Kosovo to support the Berlin process for the Balkans and expressed her hope that the Vienna Summit of 27 august will be a significant success with concrete outcomes in terms of financial commitments by the European partners.
Finally, the Minister expressed her gratitude for Austria's and EU's valuable political support, and the support in public investments during Kosovo's reconstruction stage . Now it’s time for private and profitable investments. Kosovo is becoming Balkan’s positive surprise and you are welcome to be part of it – concluded the minister.
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