The Economic Conference for Kosovo in Berlin concludes
This economic forum was assessed as a good opportunity to identify potential German speaking investors and promote investment possibilities and the expansion of opportunities for economic cooperation between Kosovo and Germany.
As well as many potential German investors, many well-known figures from Germany and Austria participated in the Conference, and also the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade and Industry, Mimoza Kusari-Lila and the Minister of Economic Development, Besim Beqaj.
Kosovos economy and the opportunities for foreign investment, in this case German, was the topic of the Conference.
The first part of the panel addressed economic and political relations, respectively the opportunities Kosovo offers as an independent state in attracting German investment and the obstructions that this new state faces because of the refusal up to now of five European states to recognize the state of Kosovo.
In his opening speech, the Kosovar Ambassador to Berlin, Vilson Mirdita, noted the tradition of economic cooperation between Kosovo and Germany, from the 70s, when Kosovo had its economic representation in Germany, Ximkos, adding that Kosovo is a place which offers many possibilities.
But, according to the Ambassador, economic growth can be helped by removing some economic barriers, such as the visa regime with Kosovo, since this obstructs freedom of movement of young Kosovar entrepreneurs in Europe.
Ralph Scheide, Austrian Ambassador in Berlin encouraged German investors to invest in Kosovo. According to him, The European Union must support the prospects of South Eastern Europe toward membership in this body. He said that in Kosovo there are many reasons to invest, emphasizing tax exemptions, the drafting and approval of laws necessary for investment, the use of the Euro, worker strength etc.
Despite all the well-known problems that Kosovo has, such as inflation, high unemployment, the lack of qualified staff, Austria has decided to invest in this country, said Ambassador Scheide, presenting a figure of 70 Austrian entrepreneurs working in Kosovo.
Deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo Mimoza Kusari-Lila said that Kosovo is building an independent state, which is a difficult process. But, our goal is to create appropriate conditions to attract foreign investment, said Kusari-Lila.
The Minister of Trade and Industry talked especially about economic capacities and the reforms being done in all structures to facilitate the dynamic of economic development and to motivate foreign firms, adding that the reforms also affect legal changes. The goal of the Kosovo Government is to strengthen economic relations not just with regional countries, but in the first place, with the European Union, said the Deputy Prime Minister, calling on Germany companies to come to Kosovo.
The Minister of Economic Development, Besim Beqaj, said to the audience that in Kosovo there is a legal framework providing security for foreign investors. Regarding the acceptance of the footnote in Brussels by the Kosovar team, Beqaj said it was a very hard, but important decision.
It was the best solution for the moment, it facilitates the state of Kosovos participation and presentation in regional meetings, as a country equal with all other countries, emphasized Minister Beqaj, who called on German firms to invest in the energy sector, telecommunications, agriculture etc.
Kujtim Dobruna from Eciks with its headquarters in Vienna said that in the post-war period Kosovo has reached annual average growth of 6 %. Meanwhile, Kosovos debts are currently at a value of less than 6 % of gross production.
One of the greatest problems, according to him, remains the illegal economy. However, Kosovo is an attractive country for investment, said Dobruna.
The Director of the Conference in Munich, Wolfgang Ischinger said that Kosovo is proving to be a success story. Ischinger, who was one of the key panelists, said also that the struggle in Kosovo is a struggle for our European identity.
The European Union, in Kosovos case, is showing its capacity for creating a united identity. Therefore, to struggle today for Kosovos recognition by all European countries means to struggle for a united foreign and security policy, said Ischinger. With determination he defended the thesis that intervention in Kosovo was just and investment in Kosovo is investment in our shared future.
Ischinger expressed his belief that the situation in Kosovo will improve and this will make possible the reduction of the international presence there.
The former Deputy Chancellor of Austria, Erhard Busek addressed the question of putting pressure on the five EU countries to recognize Kosovo. According to him, this is an obligation for the EU.
Spain will not resolve its own problems if it doesnt recognize Kosovo because its problems are different, said Busek, adding that the international community must put pressure on regional countries, such as for example, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, for the normalization of relations with Kosovo. According to him, Kosovo is in a far more hopeful situation than Bosnia-Herzegovina which soon could become the black hole of the region, not other countries.
Those participating in the conference included political and economic representatives, businessmen, including those originating from Kosovo. Forty representatives of the forum attended dinner with German deputies, representatives of the German Government and German economic associations. The participants were convinced that the Economic Forum was a very successful start to motivating and encouraging German investment. In addition, it was shown that German interest in Kosovos economy has also been great, especially in energy and mines.
The promotion of economic interests outside the country is one of the most important priorities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kosovo.
MFA plans during this year to organize an economic conference in the US, Switzerland, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Japan and other countries, in order to attract investment.
Up to now, the MFA has initiated organization of such conferences in London, Paris, New York and Rome.