Panel 2: Southeast Europe: Bridging the East and West

Connecting the regions was the focus of the second panel of the Sarajevo Business Forum: Southeast Europe – Bridging the East and West, because of its benefits for the economy as an end result. Panelists agreed that the role of Southeast Europe in connecting the Europe and Asia would only grow in importance.

Ahmet Albayrak, Executive Vice President, Kuveyt Türk Participation Bank

BiH Can Be Hub for Networking

"I want to remind you of the words of Alija Izetbegović, former President of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who said that citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina are citizens of the East and West. Muslims, Christians, Orthodox and Jews lived peacefully in Bosnia and Herzegovina for 500 years. There are two important resources in Bosnia and Herzegovina, western culture and eastern tradition, East and West belong to Allah, He encompasses, knows, and hears everything. Networking can bring us many business opportunities. The entire region cannot rely only on certain trends in the economy, but rather must pay attention to bilateral relations as well as on the types of elements that surround us.”

„Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a set of cultural values and connections, can be a hub for business networking of the whole region.”

Dr. Zlatko Lagumdžija, Former Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bosnia and Herzegovina

BiH Does Not Have Issues that the World Is Facing

„I have attended this Forum from the very beginning and I can see how it grows from year to year. We in Bosnia and Herzegovina have a problem with identity. The whole world is nowadays facing the phenomenon that we already have in Bosnia and Herzegovina – multiethnic society which was under the patronage of various regimes. We had Yugoslavia before, but nowadays it is a global problem that the world is trying to solve. But we should mention that we are not facing three main issues of the modern world: refugee crisis, debts and cyber threats. That is what I want to exemplify about this region.”

If we look from a global perspective, Bosnia and Herzegovina is in much better position. We are no longer the main news on CNN. Why? Because we are different than we were decade and a half ago.  It is true that we have a lot of reasons to be pessimistic, but there are also many reasons to be positive. We must be brutally positive because of the reasons I have already mentioned and because of the situation in the region. To be an optimist is the first condition to move forward, and, after that, the odds and attitude are also very important.”

Damir Šehović, Minister of Education, Montenegro                          

Regional Cooperation Is a Common Obligation

„Without a politically stable Balkan, there is no stable Europe. Geographically, Western Balkan is leaning on developed Europe. Politically, it strives towards the European Union, but we are still at a periphery of Europe. We should not constantly go back to the history of clashes in this region. Instead of that, it is enough to look at previous 25 years and recognize delayed transition, reduced industry and destroyed or obsolete infrastructure.“

„Still, a state that enjoys political stability and does not waver when it comes to deciding on foreign policy priorities and which clearly defines that the EU and NATO do not have alternative; a state that nurtures relations with neighboring countries and improves the competitiveness of its economy has a chance to make a significant step forward.“

„For long-term success of any country in this region, the precondition is improving the region as a whole. Regional cooperation is our common option, obligation.”

Petar Đokić, Minister of Industry, Energy and Mining of the Republic of Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina

We Are Becoming a Great Bridge

„I believe that the Balkan region has a new opportunity that we can certainly utilize far better than it is the case now, and that is the fact that, in the Balkans we have concentrated a great amount of good will despite its complicated position.“

„In one timespan, we acted as a kind of bridge, but due to various sorts of actions this has not endured. Today, thanks to the tremendous effort that has been made, this area reappears as a great bridge. We can see the results of these efforts in different industries, particularly in energy industry.”

Sahib Mammadov, Deputy Minister of Economy, The Republic of Azerbaijan

Importance of Regional Projects

„Today, my country offers significant transit potential in its region, which was developed due to the construction of corridors of regional strategic importance. We pay attention to regional projects, especially in the energy industry.”

Mohammed Al Kamali, Deputy CEO, Dubai Exports, United Arab Emirates

Create Change in the World

„I am glad to be a part of delegation that wants to make change in this part of the world. We all want to create changes in the world. Dubai plays a main role because it is one of the hubs between different regions. We believe in creating the bridges, in connections between us and other merchants. We want to be a capital of Islamic economy and that is one of the economies that can fit in modern economic systems. We do that by creating a new opportunities and connecting Dubai with the rest of the world.”

„All Balkan countries offer good opportunities to invest in. We are already present in Serbia. I want to invite you to conversation, in order to see how we can build bridges between us and share knowledge.”

Mirko Šarović, Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relationship, Bosnia and Herzegovina

BiH Needs Sarajevo Business Forum

„Sarajevo Business Forum is an authentic opportunity to introduce business and investment potentials of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

„This is a prestigious business forum in region. The number of investors proves that businessmen from the region, the European Union and other countries came to Sarajevo today. This one is the best of all I have attended. It always brings about business results and I am sure that it will happen this year as well.”

„The results of the Forum are direct and indirect. They do not manifest themselves immediately at the Forum. That is a process that will last throughout the year. Bosnia and Herzegovina needs Sarajevo Business Forum as well as other investment conferences.”