March 05, 2020

Sarajevo: Former President of Montenegro at the Bosnia and Herzegovina 2020 Economic Forum
Former President of Montenegro Filip Vujanović participated in the Bosnia and Herzegovina 2020 Economic Forum. In his address on the panel dedicated to the goals of sustainable development and the new narrative for the Western Balkans 2030, former President Vujanović stated:

The initial reason for the Podgorica Clubís foundation was to support European integration and regional cooperation in the Western Balkans in the areas defined by the EU strategic documents for our region (Credible Strategy for the Western Balkans 2018, Sofia Declaration May 2018). These areas are the economy, education, culture, science, and research. Through fulfilling these goals, the Podgorica Club is firmly committed to affirming the UN Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 and the 2020 Strategy of the Regional Cooperation Council of the Southeast European Cooperation Process (SEECP).

With its program goals, mission, and vision of action, sublimated through the action concept "New Narrative of the Western Balkans - Vision 2030", the Podgorica Clubís activities are entirely future-oriented. The Clubís goal is to make a decisive step forward through the membersí experience and free the region from the burden of the past, which this area has lived long enough and, unfortunately, has often been its hostage.

Through a little more than a year of operation, the Podgorica Club has made a full contribution to European integration through concrete activities. The Club held a regional Conference headlined "The EU Enlargement at the Crossroads" in Skopje in June 2019, when we called out the European Union to respect the "rules of the game" in the integration process and to open negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia.

Previously, in April 2019, in Ulcinj, in cooperation with the Ministry of Science of Montenegro, we held the Forum "Science and Innovation Vision 2030 for the Western Balkans". In addition to presenting the best models of cooperation in science, the forumís conclusions and recommendations sent strong support toward the Southeast European International Institute for Sustainable Technologiesí foundation (SEEIIST). The institute aims at state-of-the-art cancer therapy and biomedical research with protons and heavier ions. Three months after the Ulcinj Forum, Western Balkan heads of states and governments signed the Memorandum of Understanding for its foundation at the Berlin Process Summit in Poznan.

Throughout the support for regional cooperation and synchronized action towards the international community, the Western Balkans is strengthening its visibility and credibility internationally. It can also respond faster and more efficiently to its European integration path and the UN Agenda 2030 challenges.

In summary, the Podgorica Club operates in three directions - regional, European, and global.

Analyzes compliance between the European integration process and sustainable development goals from the 2030 Agenda show a high complementarity between these two processes. As many as 109 out of 169 sustainable development tasks in 17 goals are related to European integration. Suppose we add that every EU strategic documentís priority dedicated to integrating the Western Balkans in the EU is the support of regional cooperation; in that case, the Podgorica Clubís conclusion unites these three processes is their active promoter. Only the activities as mentioned above, organized by the Podgorica Club, directly or indirectly, can be related to the most sustainable development goals.

Unfortunately, practice shows us that we learn slowly from mistakes made in the past in some areas. The situation in the Western Balkans is far from ideal. Political dialogue is not appropriate; economic cooperation is a priority only on paper and depends solely on political will. Unfavorable demographic indicators and brain drain are very worrying and ask for immediate action. Additionally, Western Balkan countries are increasingly turning to isolationism instead of regional cooperation. Those who say that part of the current momentís responsibility lies with the EU or the international community are not wrong. However, we need to finally begin with ourselves and take the future into our own hands. It is necessary to create a new narrative for the Western Balkans. We can fulfill that by achieving sustainable development goals from the 2030 Agenda, working with a sincere desire for reform towards the EU, and strong support for cooperation at the regional level, for the benefit of people, prosperity, planet, partnership, and peace. (five dimensions of the UN Sustainable Development Agenda).

In the end, right here in Sarajevo, we have the best evidence of what intimacy and coexistence, conflicts, and distance bring us. Almost six centuries ago, the founder of Sarajevo and great regional Isa Beg Ishaković, with his waqufs in our region, called for solidarity, friendship, and connection, for the closeness and the good of all.

Sarajevo gives a symbolic message of the value of communion with the church - orthodox and catholic, a mosque and a synagogue in the very center of the city. A symbolic that shows that civilizations, religions, and heritage of empires can be and must be a common good for the benefit of all. Finally, in a state that no longer exists, Sarajevo was the proof of decades of brotherhood and unity, thanks to which we were a valuable example of harmony and coexistence on the planetary level.

At the same time, and unfortunately, Sarajevo was a part of the five wars of the last century, one of which - the First World War began here, and the last one, in the tragic disintegration of our former state, had the most tragic consequences. That is why Sarajevo is firmly saying - letís cooperate and be close. It guarantees us peace and coexistence, respect for all five dimensions of the UN Sustainable Development Agenda 2030, and finally, a clear path to European integration. With the new narrative for the Western Balkans, we will provide the states and societies that this region deserves based upon its values.

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