Below you can read his talk in the Investing in the Future: Can Entrepreneurs ‘Fix’ Balkans:
My Economic Development Program of the Western Balkans
As an international credentialing entrepreneur I was aware from the outset that only economic development could easily alleviate the inter-ethnic conflict of our region.
Many today ask the question why we are paradoxically the poorest region in Europe? Perhaps they are right.
Today, around 20 million people live in our region, with a low average per capita income of around 10,000 euros a year. Is this the situation we and the citizens of this region want? Anyway, no. Without a profound analysis of current trends and the predictability of economic developments, I strongly believe that this region offers opportunities to live with multiple incomes bigger than the present ones.
The reason is simple and logical: because there are many natural resources, qualified human resources and proximity to important global markets. It’s just in our hands how we tie three main points: human and natural resources, capital, and market access. You may also ask me about the question, as some prefer to call it a million, but I just know what is the way forward:
It needs change. Change of status of political, economic and entrepreneurial relations. It’s getting started with the latter, for which I actually had my recipe early on.
In 2000, I founded the Union of Albanian Entrepreneurs.
With the same intention, six years later, when Kosovo was still not independent, and when it comes to regional initiatives it may still seem utopian and sometimes it could even be attacked as a heretic pacifist, I founded with the help of one of Think- The Most Influential Tank in American Policy-Making – The CSIS, the South East European Economic Development Foundation, in order to seek opportunities to facilitate economic co-operation between countries in this region, create new jobs, strengthen development and increasing the self-knowledge of citizens on their rights and obligations.
Co-operation in South East Europe really has no alternative. It will make the region more attractive to foreign investment, while the free movement of citizens, ideas, goods and capital will consolidate the two-sided trust and respect across the divided countries and fragmented societies.
Several years later, respectively in 2011, in the capacity of the President of Kosovo, he also announced the Platform for the creation of the National Economic Union.
These were just some of my efforts as an entrepreneur before I decided to dedicate myself to politics and for a single purpose: to give the country first, but also the region’s software for rapid economic development.
To give this opportunity to the business world of our country and the region’s business. Political elites. Albanians in particular, who are only empowered by the opening of borders in the region because they are one of the largest Balkan nations, though divided into several states.
You can even call the software or, if you like, my cure for Balkan political diseases:
• the collapse of the status quo in the economic relations between our countries, its main players, ie the democratization of the market. This, of course, would bring new players within our space, and the attraction of those outside;
• demolition of monopolies: the dominant positions of certain states, in particular the neighboring state of Serbia and certain companies in agriculture, energy and other fields;
• Injecting best organizational practices into our companies;
• Public Private Partnerships;
• change of development models, liberalizing our economies,
• increasing the weight of services,
• Modernizing the mining industry through modern management, access to the capital market;
We are in the midst of Europe, we have young, dynamic and skillful people in the field of information technologies.
To achieve our common goal of rapid economic development we must use new forms of attraction of these investments. Therefore, I have identified as a good tactic of these investments, even to enhance inter-ethnic cooperation, the creation of free Economic Zones.
We urge financial institutions, European Union and others to take this road seriously.