For all governments of the Western Balkans, the key issue is energy, progress in that sector, and greater use of renewable energy sources, where Norway's experience and support can be valuable, it was pointed out at the Regional Business Conference Norway- Western Balkans „Investment opportunities in renewable energy sources in the Western Balkans".
The conference, which was held at the Palace of Serbia, gathered the leaders from the Region -Aleksandar Vučić, President of Serbia, Prime Ministers of Albania, North Macedonia, and Montenegro- Edi Rama, Dimitar Kovačevski and Dritan Abazović, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina -Zoran Tegeltija and Andreas Eriksen, Deputy Minister of Energy and Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Norway, ministers in the Government of Serbia, representatives of the business community.
Cooperation is the only way to get out of the energy crisis we are all facing, said Marko Čadež, the President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia in the opening speech.
As he pointed out, the possibility of investing in renewable energy sources is an issue that occupies the whole world and will affect the way humanity will live in the years and decades to come.
We are facing geopolitical challenges that show us how dependent we are on unsustainable, old ways of producing, distributing, and consuming energy and energy sources. We must work on finding different solutions in that area, and Norway's experiences can help us in that, said the president of the CCIS.
In the energy sector, numerous reforms are needed, a change in our habits, but also huge investments, even reaching between 16 and 30 billion euros in the coming years, said the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, stating that there are no easy or simple solutions, but that all this must be undertaken, because we will otherwise, face disaster.
For all governments in the region, one of the most important issues is progress in the energy sector, Vučić pointed out. According to the president, there are deep fundamental problems in Serbia, not only when it comes to diversification of gas and oil supply, but when it comes to us, our old-fashioned approach, and old technologies in thermal power plants.
The Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, expressed hope that a regional energy market will be created so that the countries of the Western Balkans will have easier access to energy and investments in the energy sector.
“This is a needed gathering at a time of war when bombs are falling and hitting someone in Ukraine, and the energy crisis and prices, due to the war, are affecting the whole of Europe. Without any doubt in these difficult times, wider regional cooperation is what we advocated when we started the Open Balkans, and it becomes more and more obvious that we have to regionalize our markets and go beyond our borders in the field of energy," said Rama. "Acting regionally in the energy sector would provide easier access to finance and stronger contact with the private sector," added the Albanian Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Dimitar Kovačevski, pointed out that his government is considering buying 10 percent of the LNG (liquefied natural gas) at the terminal in Alexandroupolis, Greece, as well as building additional gas interconnectors with Bulgaria, which could connect Serbia and other countries in the region.
"The project related to the new LNG terminal is related to the government's decision to buy 10 percent of LNG in Alexandroupolis," he said. Kovačevski pointed out that North Macedonia is drafting the second phase of the connection with the Greek gas interconnector.
The Prime Minister of Montenegro, Dritan Abazović, is convinced that all the countries of the Western Balkans are committed to the same common goal of reducing energy dependence, and shocks that stem from it, and moving towards the construction of energy facilities from renewable sources in order to be more green producers. "The general expectation is to reduce energy dependence and to move towards the construction of energy facilities from renewable sources, to become more green producers and I believe that this is everyone’s intention, not only of Montenegro," said Abazović.
Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Zoran Tegeltija expressed hope that next year the construction of the „Buk- Bijela“ hydropower plant on the Drina, which the Republika Srpska is building with Serbia, will be made possible.
The envoy of the Prime Minister of Norway, Andreas Eriksen, called on the countries of the Western Balkans to cooperate in the field of energy and find solutions for the introduction of a greater degree of renewable energy sources (RES), as well as achieving the goals of the green transition. He offered the help of Norway, its companies, and the experience they have in that area as a country that already met 90 percent of its energy needs from RES.
The meeting was organized by the Norwegian embassies in Belgrade and Sarajevo in cooperation with the Nordic Business Alliance, the Business Association of Norway-BiH, and Norwegian partners for cooperation in the field of energy. Bilateral meetings of businessmen were also held under the auspices of the conference.