The meeting of the Council of Foreign Affairs Ministers of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative and European Strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian Region (EUSAIR) was held on May 8th in Budva, concluding the successful one-year Montenegrin Chairmanship of these regional mechanisms.
The meeting has been held within the larger framework of the 4th EUSAIR annual Forum and the 2nd Joint Conference of the Adriatic and Ionian Chambers of Commerce, Cities and Universities.

The Adriatic-Ionian Council/EUSAIR Ministerial Meeting, chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Prof. Dr. Srđan Darmanović, was attended by Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia Ivica Dačić, Bosnia and Herzegovina Igor Crnadak, Republic of Croatia Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative Amb. Giovanni Castellaneta and Director for Smart and Sustainable Growth and Programmes Implementation IV (Southern Europe) in the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO) of the European Commission Rudolf Niessler. The Adriatic and Ionian Council was also attended by Deputy Ministers and high-level political representatives of all AII participating countries and by the Republic of San Marino – Minister of Foreign Affairs, Political Affairs and Justice Nicola Renzi. In addition, other regional organizations were invited to participate as special guest – the Central European Initiative; the Migration, Asylum, Refugees Regional Initiative; the Regional Cooperation Council; the Regional Youth Cooperation Office.

The adopted Budva Declaration reaffirmed readiness of participating countries to further intensify cooperation in the framework of regional initiatives, while strengthening the European perspective of the region. Additionally the Declaration signed the enlargement of the AII to the Republic of San Marino, which now becomes the tenth participating country of the Initiative.

Minister Darmanović opened the meeting stressing that since 2000, the Adriatic and Ionian Initiative has played a part in changing the historic outlook of our countries. “The very successful one-year Chairmanship of Montenegro have once again reaffirmed our firm determination and strong commitment to regional cooperation and multilateralism”, stated Minister Darmanović, underlining that the priorities of the Presidency were directed to intensifying cooperation in the fields of tourism, culture, environmental protection and research and innovation. The head of the Montenegrin diplomacy also emphasized that significant progress has been made in view of strengthening regional relations with the aim of addressing issues of common interest to all AII countries.

Minister Darmanović handed over the Chairmanship to the Republic of Serbia and assessed that “Adriatic-Ionian Initiative, during its almost two decades of existence, and later EUSAIR, serves as a regional framework for cooperation between countries with the same priority objective – strengthening the European perspective of the region.”

Minister Dačić expressed gratitude to Montenegro and Minister Darmanović for the successful AII/EUSAIR Chairmanship, acknowledging the special attention paid to the promotion of European standards and values. "This is very important to us given that these are the basic preconditions for the full involvement and complete integration of the Western Balkans in the European Union. Serbia will continue its Presidency in that spirit," Dačić concluded.

AII Secretary General Castellaneta, while congratulating Montenegro on a successful Presidency, said that the Budva Declaration sends a strong message in terms of importance of EU enlargement policy. In that context, he stressed that “the AII and its Permanent Secretariat will continue to be an essential tool for fostering regional cooperation by further enhancing policy dialogue and cooperation among the now ten AII Participating Countries. We will continue to support the European integration aspirations of the Western Balkan countries” (here the full speech).

Director Niessler praised the achievements of Montenegro during its Chairmanship, pointing out that the European Commission acknowledges the paramount importance of macro-regional strategies, particularly this one which has an additional political value, encouraging development in the region in order to get closer to the European Union.

Furthermore, after the closing of the Adriatic and Ionian Council / EUSAIR Ministerial Meeting a Memorandum of Understanding between the Adriatic and Ionian Initiative Permanent Secretariat and the Central European Initiative (CEI) Executive Secretariat has been signed by the two Secretary Generals. The signature seals a strong long-standing partnership and contributes to fostering regional cooperation and sustainable development.

The ministerial panel, on the topic “Integration for the people, development for the region”, was also held on the same day in Budva at the end of the Ministerial meeting. Minister Darmanović on that occasion stated that cooperation in the framework of AII and EUSAIR represents an additional incentive for the countries that aspire to accelerate integration processes, as well as that he “proudly emphasizes that Montenegro is the first non-EU country that has been chairing the EUSAIR.” The connection between the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative and the EUSAIR, stressed Minister Darmanović, is of great importance. The key to the success of EUSAIR is further strengthening of its political dimension.

All panellists agreed that the Adriatic Ionian macroregional policy is one of the most successful EU policies in this realm, underlining that activities in the framework of AII/EUSAIR contribute to socio-economic development of the Adriatic-Ionian region, as well as to determining better solutions for the economies of all countries. 

The Serbian Minister for European Integration, Jadranka Joksimović, in her intervention highlighted that there is always room for improvement. For this reason the upcoming Serbian Presidency of AII/EUSAIR, which will formally start on June 1st, will focus on emphasizing tangible outcomes, especially in the areas of energy infrastructure and transport connectivity, with the aim of achieving visible and concrete results of cooperation in the region. The formal handover of the presidency between the Montenegrin Foreign Minister, Srđan Darmanović, and his Serbian colleague, Ivica Dačić, marked the end of a very successful Forum.

Within the framework of the Montenegrin Presidency, an art exhibition of painters from all countries of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative was also held in Budva and it was officially opened by Minister Darmanović and Minister of Culture Aleksandar Bogdanović.

The Adriatic and Ionian Initiative (AII) Permanent Secretariat and the Central European Initiative CEI - Executive Secretariat signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the framework of the Adriatic and Ionian Council. The Ceremony took place on May 8th in Budva, where AII Secretary General Giovanni Castellaneta and CEI Secretary General Roberto Antonione signed the agreement for a shared action for their regions.

The signature seals a strong long-standing partnership and contributes to fostering regional cooperation and sustainable development. The MoU is a step forward for a joint preparation and implementation of activities as well as an exchange of expertise and skills in project management in areas of common interest to the benefit of the citizens.

AII SG Castellaneta stated that there is room for synergies and for exchanging information and experiences between the two intergovernmental / multilateral initiatives. “Two regional organizations which clearly share the same objectives, namely to facilitate the integration process and to promote economic growth and prosperity in the region through concrete cooperation activities”.

“We aim at fostering projects targeting activities in the field of Blue Growth, connectivity, environmental protection, sustainable tourism as well as those aimed at improving research and innovation systems, culture and education in our regions", said CEI Secretary General Antonione.

Each Party will appoint a contact person responsible for managing the implementation of the MoU, liaising and facilitating information flows on joint actions and common activities.

The Budva Declaration has been adopted on the 8th of May 2019 by the high-level political representatives of the AII/EUSAIR participating countries at the Adriatic Ionian Council / EUSAIR Ministerial meeting.

More information will follow shortly.

Please find here the declaration.

BUDVA DECLARATION

On May 30-31, Ancona (Italy) will be hosting the fourth edition of the Adriatic Sea Forum – cruise, ferry, sail & yacht, the itinerant international event dedicated to maritime tourism and developed by Risposte Turismo, consulting and research company operating in the field of the tourism macro-industry, this year in partnership with Central Adriatic Ports Authority. The Adriatic and Ionian Initiative is a supporting organization of the event.

Numerous round tables and over 200 operators are expected to attend the two-day opportunity for discussion, business networking and an in-depth study of the cruise, ferry and nautical sector.

The Forum’s objective is to discuss the future progress of maritime tourism in the Adriatic, facilitating the development of new collaborative projects and creating opportunities for all the stakeholders in the cruise, ferry and nautical (sail&yacht) sectors that operate in the Adriatic area and who will meet together and network.

Some of the topics to be discussed at the round tables include sharing choices and actions that could accelerate the growth of the Adriatic Sea through maritime tourism, the intervention and investment priorities that the area's port authorities identify, with reference to various aspects of passenger traffic, the possibility of pursuing economic growth and environmental protection, the important consequences for the territories generated by mega yacht tourism, the competitiveness of ferries in a modified framework availability of mobility and transport, and novelties that could characterize the cruise industry in the near future.

The event will also allow all participants to keep up-to-date with the European programmes dedicated to the area and with the EUSAIR strategy five years after its launch; to learn more about the characteristics, demands and expectations of customers interested in the possibilities for tourism in the Adriatic; to learn about situations outside the Adriatic area that have excelled in maritime tourism.

Attending Adriatic Sea Forum offers the chance:

- to get and stay in touch with the operators who work in Adriatic maritime and tourism industries as a whole, whether they are actually based in the countries that look onto the Adriatic or not;

- to establish contacts with important administrators and decision makers;

- to attend conference sessions and also have enough time for business meetings;

- to create new business relationships and strengthen the existing ones; for participants to each present their own projects and activities, results and perspectives;

- to acquire the latest data and information on maritime tourism in the Adriatic area.

Please find here a Forum brochure (including the programme) and a press release.

For further information and registration visit the official website of the event: http://www.adriaticseaforum.com/

The Round Table on Transports, organized by the Ministry of Transport and Maritime Affairs with the support of the Adriatic and Ionian Initiative Permanent Secretariat, took place in Budva on April 24th within the framework of the Montenegrin AII Chairmanship.

The focus of the Round Table was on the connectivity of the ports and monitoring of maritime traffic, including the development of the traffic network between ports in the Adriatic-Ionian region, as well as on the improvement of port infrastructures and services.

The Director General of the Ministry of Transports and Maritime Affairs (Directorate for the Maritime Economy), Maja Mijišković pointed out that "as President of the AII, Montenegro intends to continue to promote good neighbourly relations and regional cooperation in order to further promote the development and growth of this region through the strengthened role of the AII and the EU Strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian Region. Also, one of the goals of Montenegro's Presidency of the AII is to focus on promoting joint activities in the maritime economy and maritime traffic”. Furthermore, she emphasized that the Adriatic and Ionian Sea is among one of the largest natural, economic and developmental resources, and it has the potential for the valorisation and promotion of common values ​​of the countries that surround it.

The Round Table was an opportunity to exchange experiences and best practises on Vessel Traffic Monitoring and Information System (VTMIS), Port State Control, pollution prevention and emergency response, cruise and nautical tourism development, port management and freight forwarding, port services, but also for disseminating European projects connected to these topics.

Filippo Alabardi from the AII Permanent Secretariat stressed that the Adriatic Ionian region has a great potential to further develop the ports connections and maritime traffic, thus benefiting a wide range of stakeholders in the area.

Director General for Maritime Affairs, Vladan Radonjić pointed out that today Montenegro is in a much better situation compared to five years ago, when the country did not have such a developed and high quality navigation systems, implementing also numerous international conventions on the topic. "We can rightly say that we belong to the European family when it comes to the achievements in navigation safety, ports security and the protection of the sea from pollution" Radonjić emphasized.