Slovakia will continue to actively participate in sharing its experience with countries wishing to become members of the European Union (EU). This was said by Deputy Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic for Investment and Informatization of the Slovak Republic Richard Raši during his speech at the summit of the member states of the Central European Initiative (CEI) in Rome, Italy. At the meeting of Prime Ministers, the Deputy Prime Minister represented Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini thereby representing Slovakia.
The main topics were a discussion on the future functioning of this grouping in the context of meeting its objectives. Among the main ones were European integration of the Western Balkan countries, development of regional cooperation and search for new business opportunities. The representatives of all 17 countries that are members of the CEI have exchanged a number of views with representatives of European international organizations. They talked mainly about the current developments in the Central and Eastern European region and about the possibility of greater involvement in the integration processes within the so-called wider Europe, as well as about sustainable growth and economic challenges that are related to it.
“European integration is a success story. Countries that once fought each other have created a community that has become a model of peaceful cooperation and prosperity. Many of us think that European Union is an economic project, but it is much more. It is a key factor for peace on the continent. However, there are still countries, even in Europe, for whom reconciliation and cooperation could be inspiring,” said Deputy Prime Minister Richard Raši.
In his address, the Deputy Prime Minister stressed the need to continue the enlargement of the European Union, while we may not slacken in passing on our experience of the accession process. “My colleagues and I have agreed that the Central European Initiative must continue to act as an example of useful neighbourhood cooperation. It is thanks to the amalgamation of both members and non-members of the Union that it has been a regional platform for all of us for 30 years now,” added R. Raši. The organization is celebrating its 30th anniversary this very year.
The Central European Initiative is a regional association for political, economic and cultural cooperation. Its main objective is to support the process of transformation and European integration in the Western Balkans and Eastern European countries.
The summit of prime ministers culminated the annual Italian presidency of the CEI. Each year the presiding country will hold two meetings at political level – meeting of Foreign Ministers in June and a December meeting of Prime Ministers. Last year the December summit was held in Zagreb under the presidency of Croatia, and Slovakia was represented by Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini. At the end of the summit, Italy handed over the Presidency of Montenegro. The Presidency continues for one year. Slovakia presided over the CEI countries in 2005, the next presidency should be again in 2028.
17 countries are members of the Central European Initiative. In addition to Slovakia, it is Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Montenegro, Croatia, Macedonia, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Serbia, Italy and Ukraine.