The Implications of the Open Balkan Initiative Summit in Serbia

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The Open Balkan Initiative, established on July 29, 2021 by Albania, North Macedonia, and Serbia, has a significant potential for the development of regional cooperation. As the name suggests, the Open Balkan Initiative summit, the last of which was held in Ohrid, North Macedonia, on June 7-8, 2022, is considered a valuable summit in terms of the expansion of the regional initiative. Prime Minister of Albanian Edi Rama, President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic, Prime Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina Zoran Tegetlija, and Prime Minister of Montenegro Dritan Abazovic attended the summit hosted by Prime Minister of North Macedonia Dimitar Kovachevski as observers for the first time. Therefore, at the summit in Ohrid, Montenegro was expected to be included in the initiative.

The leaders of the Open Balkan Initiative, also called the “Mini Schengen Area,” came together in Belgrade, two months after the summit in Ohrid. Participants from Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the summit was quite intense in numbers, which are currently seen as potential candidate countries.Previously, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Kosovo refused to participate in the initiative, but Kosovo was the only country that refused to participate in the last summit.In addition, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Türkiye and Peter Szijjarto, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary also attended the summit.

The main agenda topic of the summit was the food and energy crisis that emerged with the Russia-Ukraine War. In this context, some crisis groups have been formed to stabilize the food and energy crisis among member countries. In addition, cooperation agreements covering the fields of agriculture, culture, infrastructure, and civil protection were signed between the countries belonging to the initiative.[1]

The messages given in the statements made by the Open Balkan leaders at the summit are of critical importance. Serbian President Vucic emphasized that the Open Balkan Initiative is essential for cooperation and economic development.[2] The main agenda of Albanian Prime Minister Rama was the energy crisis. Rama called on the EU to financially support Albania and the Open Balkan Initiative member states and stated that the union should not repeat the mistakes during the Covid-19 epidemic. In his explanation on the subject, Rama used the following statements:[3]

“This winter is likely to be the hardest we have encountered. We have not had easy winters in the Balkans. Today, as we speak, there are hours of power outages in Kosovo. This is a fact. Britain, France or Germany, plans are being presented to cut off the energy. Same as during the pandemic to save electricity. The EU should not repeat what it did during the pandemic. The EU closed itself and saw only within the walls of its own castle.”

On the other hand, the Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Kovacevski, said that it is crucial for the countries to work together to have an easy winter and progress toward the EU. Tegeltija, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who attended the summit as an observer, stated that his country has not yet participated in the Open Balkan Initiative and said, “I hope that Bosnia and Herzegovina will be a part of the Open Balkan, apart from attending the summit as a guest.”

The statements are read to signal that Bosnia and Herzegovina will be included in the “Initiative Staff” in the coming days. Montenegro Prime Minister Abazovic, who also attended the summit as an observer like Bosnia and Herzegovina, emphasized that his country supports the Open Balkan and said, “This is an important way of dialogue and agreement that needs to be supported.” found in the statement.[4] Therefore, the Heads of State of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro gave the “green light” to the claims that the initiative could expand two months later.This situation is considered an essential issue for the initiative established to constitute regional cooperation in economic terms.

Member states call on other Western Balkan countries to participate in the Open Balkan Initiative Summit. In this sense, it is noteworthy that Albanian Prime Minister Rama frequently called the Government of Pristina, especially Kosovo, to be included in the initiative. In his speech at the summit, Rama said that if Kosovo is included in the Open Balkan Initiative, the problems in the country’s north will be resolved. Undoubtedly, these words are one of the apparent calls for Kosovo to join the initiative.[5]

Albania is the country closest to Kosovo in terms of bilateral relations among the member states of the initiative. On the other hand, it is seen that Albania’s relations with Serbia have improved due to the positive atmosphere created by the Open Balkan Initiative in the region. Therefore, Rama’s statement that “Kosovo can solve its problems with Serbia if it joins the initiative” should be considered an introductory statement on the political plane. This situation, raises the question of “Can Albania be a mediator country in the resolution of the Kosovo-Serbia tension?”

In conclusion, it is noteworthy that the meetings held since the establishment of the initiative, which aims to develop economic cooperation at the regional level, have gradually increased. In this case, it is seen that the developments in global politics have a significant impact. Considering that the world is on the edge of a serious food and energy crisis, it can be argued that the value of such regional alliances has increased even more. Therefore, it can be said that the Open Balkan Initiative offers a severe advantage in developing regional cooperation. Although the initiative was established for economic reasons, it stands out as a structure that contributes to peace and stability in the region where frequent conflicts occur.

[1] “Ključne Poruke Sa Samita ‘Otvoreni Balkan’”, Al Jazeera Balkans,, (Date of Accession: 08.09.2022)

[2] “Vucic: Open Balkan Important For Region’s Economic Future”, Tanjug,, (Date of Accession: 08.09.2022).

[3] “Energy Crisis, PM Rama Calls on EU to Help Balkan Countries” Albanian Daily News,, (Date of Accession: 08.09.2022).

[4] “Sırbistan’da “Açık Balkan Girişimi” Zirvesi Düzenlendi”, Anadolu Ajansı,, (Date of Accession: 08.09.2022).

[5] “Border Tensions Would Have Been Resolved If Kosovo Was Par of Open Balkans; PM”, Albanian Daily News,, (Date of Accession: 08.09.2022).

Lisans eğitimini Gazi Üniversitesi İletişim Fakültesi'nde tamamlayan Sibel Mazrek, yüksek lisans eğitimine Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli Üniversitesi Lisansüstü Eğitim Enstitüsü'nde Gazetecilik Ana Bilim Dalı'nda devam etmektedir. Çeşitli medya kuruluşlarında muhabirlik, spikerlik sunuculuk görevlerini üstlenen Mazrek, ANKASAM'da Medya Koordinatörü olarak çalışmalarına devam etmektedir.