Central and eastern European countries that are part of the Central European Initiative (CEI), a regional intergovernmental forum committed to supporting European integration, would like to continue fostering their cooperation and to address, through concerted action, issues such as migrant crises, security threats and terrorism.
Members of the CEI initiative, founded in 1989, met in Sarajevo on Tuesday and reiterated their commitment to the development of regional transport and infrastructural projects.
This year’s CEI Summit took place in Sarajevo, with Bosnia and Herzegovina's Prime Minister Denis Zvizdic underscoring in his keynote speech that there is still a huge gap between the East and the West.
The average GDP per capita in eastern European countries is less than 50% of the average GDP per capita in western European countries, Zvizdic said, adding that a majority of central and eastern countries that are members of the CEI do not develop at a desirable pace. As a result, young, educated and talented people leave those countries and all this can lead to radicalism, which undermines fundamental values stemming from justice and equity, he said.
In his speech, Zvizdic praised this organisation for making consistent and long-standing efforts to lessen the gaps between the East and the West.
On 1 January 2016, the presidency of the CEI was assumed by Bosnia and Herzegovina, a member since 1992. Belarus takes over the presidency on 1 January 2017.
There are 17 members of this initiative - Albania, Austria, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Macedonia, Moldova, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine.
Croatian Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butkovic, who represented Croatia at the Sarajevo summit meeting, said that participants in the event agreed that it was necessary to deal with the contemporary challenges.
"We are united in the position that issues such as the migrant crisis and terrorism should be dealt with in a cautious manner and that we should exchange experiences and comply with the laws and fundamental human values," Butkovic said in his address to the press.
He said that he had met with his Bosnian counterpart Ismir Jusko for talks on bilateral transport projects, notably the completion of the construction of bridges across the Sava River within pan-European corridors.
On the margins of the Sarajevo summit, the CEI and the International Organisation for Migrations (IOM) signed a memorandum of understanding in a bid to make efforts aimed at addressing the migrant crisis more efficient.