PM Edi Rama at joint press conference of Western Balkan leaders at Open Balkans Summit

Prime Minister Edi Rama’s remarks at joint leaders’ press conference press conference at the Open Balkans Summit in Ohrid:
PM Edi Rama: Thank you for the warm hospitality and for the positive atmosphere created here. Thank you for taking the trouble to join us here. 
The Open Balkan initiative started off as a joint idea of three people, but today it is no longer the idea of only three people. The Open Balkans now belongs to all our citizens and will always belong to more and more people, because it takes just driving to Ohrid and cross the border to see the change, where  a simple sign reading “the Open Balkans green lane” actually means a great relief for all of those who transport their products, it represents a great relief after the walls have been torn down and roads have been cleared for everyone to travel and move faster without being tormented and wasting precious time to transport goods and their products from point A to point B.
As the President affirmed, we will set up a joint working group to tackle the crisis and provide concrete and tangible solutions to the profound crisis, which will most likely further deepen and which has gripped not only our continent, but the whole world, and it definitely calls for sustainability and efforts of  every country, but we can do whatever in our power to relieve the burden each of our country has to share thanks to the cooperation between our countries is indeed a very precious thing at his moment, when even the last grain of wheat will weigh as much as a 100-kg sack of full of wheat and when the last kilowatt of electricity will weigh as much as a megawatt.
Our joint working group will start its work immediately and in the meantime we will address other issues through other chapters of the Open Balkans, starting with the first one in July, when we will have a meeting to discuss the proposals of the working group and then in September, in Belgrade, where the first edition of the Open Balkans wine and food fair is set to take place and bring together entrepreneurs and citizens from all the countries in the region, because politicians may decide to stay here or not to come here, but what we wish for is making sure that all the citizens and the entrepreneurs are granted the opportunity to participate and get involved.
Of course, in addition to the first edition of the Open Balkans Fair, a joint session on the food security will take place concurrently. The next summit of the Open Balkans initiative will focus on the energy security and will take place in Albania. It is an already known fact that today Albania is obviously a very important regional hub in terms the energy supply and, on the other hand, there are ample potentials for us to become complementary due to various energy sources. The next sessions will focus on the connectivity, transport. Here, also for tourism and the environment with Montenegro, so that we develop as much synergies.
Last but not least, I am very glad that we are five of us today, regardless of the reluctance and previous views or statuses and, as Dritan rightly earlier said, this is the table for us to communicate and establish dialogue and make the best of it in best of the common interest.
I wish we were six of us and I wish we will be six of us, but one thing is for sure. Precisely because this is an initiative that belongs to the citizens, the countries and future of the region, the Open Balkans initiative will neither be stopped, nor shut down. Whoever opposes is destined for disappointment and whoever is reluctant is merely destined for wasting more precious time from benefiting from his initiative.
We are here and we will continue to be here in the future, because none of our countries will go anywhere. We didn’t chose each other, we have seen our history dozens and hundreds of years ago when we turned the back and opposed each other and fought against each other, but our children deserve having a space, where the wealth, the richness, abundant resources, the stunning landscape and the diversity God has blessed this region with become the basis for their welfare, peace and security.
Thank you!
– Mr. Rama, how much does the statement by Russian Foreign Minister that he supports the Open Balkan compromises this initiative and does the initiative really favours Serbia, as he said, or all the participating countries? Have there been any reactions from the European Union and the United States of America that joined this format today? Thank you!
PM  Edi Rama: Thank you very much! At the very beginning, I expressed my appreciations to many people and I would like to start my answer to your question by expressing a last but not least appreciation. I would like to thank Mr. Ali Ahmeti for his presence here  and I would like to point out that Ali Ahmeti is one of the pioneers of the Open Balkans initiative even when we had yet to arrive at this point we are today, let alone be part of the Open Balkans and this suffices for us to take a look at North Macedonia’s institutional system nowadays and what institutional system used to exist in North Macedonia, when Ali Ahmeti was lambasted for allegedly “sitting at a table with the enemies.” The very enemies who lived and shared the same street, the enemies with whom you share the sky and the land of this state made up of two state-forming ethnic communities, namely the Macedonians and the Albanians.
It was a time when we couldn’t even imagined that the Albanian was to become an official language let alone imagining that the Speaker of North Macedonia’s Parliament was to be an Albanian, two deputy prime minister were to be Albanians, and I don’t know how many ministers were to be Albanians and so on and so forth. Why am I saying all these? I am saying all of these because there is a way for anyone wishing to learn what the Open Balkans initiative is and where we wish to reach at and they can do so by looking at the path Ali Mehmeti has walked through.
On the other hand, I would like to tell something to all those who keep asking questions about accession or departure from the Open Balkans. Fortunately, the Open Balkans is neither the United Nations Organization nor the European Union. There is no membership in the Open Balkans initiative, but one can access and integrate into this initiative as they please.
Fortunately, it is not in our hand to change the EU, but it is up to us how to do the work in the Balkans after having seen how the single common market has worked and about which everyone says it is the right thing to do. It is definitely the right thing to do and yes we have launched the Open Balkans initiative to implement the common market principles.
When it comes to the Russian Foreign Minister, I can say that it is about a very high-level shark in the very ocean of the international diplomacy, who is well-known for his sarcasm and many fish have swam and trapped along the stream of his tricks, because if he was to support the Open Balkans initiative he would then be here today. How can he possibly support the Open Balkans? The U.S. the EU are present here today, whereas he is not. This sort of narrative and this sort of food can fool the “closed Balkans fish only.” 
The last thing I have to say before the man who exactly knows if Russia is the mastermind of this, I mean this fishing in this water of Balkan relations history to hurt processes that are breaking us up from the past and sending us towards the future, it’s very easy but it’s not going to work.
I would conclude by citing the US Ambassador in Belgrade who told us last night that the United States has detonated two atomic bombs over Japan, yet the US and Japan are very close allies for a long time now. If Japan would have opted to turn its back on US, it wouldn’t become the country it is today. The past features many issues that may hinder us, there are many things we should tackle, but the more we work together for the future, the higher are the chances for us to address the pending issues of the past.
If we fail to realize this and if we fail to realize that we come from various histories and we debate over where I and you come from at every meeting we hold, we will never come together. What matters most for me is the fact that the exports of the Albanian farmers to Serbia and North Macedonia have doubled thanks to the Open Balkans initiative. This is what matters most.
Thank you!

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