My first year as Secretary General of the Adriatic and Ionian Initiative is coming to an end together with the closure of the Italian Chairmanship, a year full of challenges and stimulations.
The Adriatic and Ionian Region is one of the most beautiful areas of Europe, both in terms of cultural and natural heritage.
Our ancestors gifted us with an unmeasurable number of historical, cultural and artistic sites (just think about Venice, the Diocletian’s Palace in Split, Butrint, the historical town of Kotor in its bay, the cities of Corfu and Piran, as well as exceptional inland sites like the Kalemegdan Fortress in Belgrade and much more) making it one of the areas with the highest concentration of UNESCO sites in the world. At the same time, a large part of this Region is among the poorest areas of Europe with big problems of unemployment, low quality of life and poorly functioning economies.
All this considered, the task of the Adriatic and Ionian Initiative, in line with the objectives of the “EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region” (EUSAIR), is to make sure stakeholders in the area take advantage from the incredible natural and cultural asset at their disposal and pool their forces in order to address together, through cooperation, the socio-economic and ecological challenges facing the region.
Since the EUSAIR has been established in autumn 2014, the AII is carving out its role as the main sponsor of civil society in the area, so to make sure that the principle of subsidiarity, which is essential for the implementation of a regional development strategy, is fully applied in the context of the EUSAIR.
We have opened our main cooperation instrument (the Round Tables) to stakeholders and strengthened the cooperation with the regional fora and networks (Universities, Cities, Chambers of Commerce, Regions, etc.) and we will do it even more in the future, in line with the indications set in the final Declaration of AII Ministers.
The “Adriatic and Ionian Council / EUSAIR Ministerial Meeting” of Catania (24 May 2018) will make the point of the progress achieved by the Italian Chairmanship, handing over, at the same time, the lead of the AII to Montenegro, that, as already announced will focus its year of Presidency (June 2018- May 2019), on two topics: developing sustainable tourism and facilitating energy and transport connection.
Next year will be crucial in order to meet the expectation of stakeholders and of people living in the region. It is now time for them to start reaping the benefit of the work done so far by the EUSAIR Governance actors. They have the responsibility to get the machine running so that actions and projects contribute to the promotion of economic growth and prosperity in the region by improving its attractiveness, competitiveness and connectivity.
The AII Permanent Secretariat (AII-PS), from its side, will support the rotating AII/EUSAIR Chairmanship in all its activities during the year and will constantly and proactively work for the inclusion of stakeholders in the macroregional process.
I can assure you that the Permanent Secretariat - from its seat in Ancona - will continue to be pivotal in its traditional connecting role between Governments, regional actors and civil society Fora and networks that have been, up to today, essential in the preparation and implementation phase of the macroregional mechanism and will continue to be the same all through the year of Montenegrin Chairmanship and beyond.
I wish all of you visitors, EUSAIR Stakeholders and people involved in cooperation activities in the Adriatic and Ionian area a fruitful surfing on our website.
Amb. Giovanni Castellaneta