Swedish Foreign Minister says RCC role of utmost importance for South East Europe

18 February 2009

STOCKHOLM/SARAJEVO – The role of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) is of utmost importance for cooperation in South East Europe (SEE) and completion of the region’s EU integration processes, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt told RCC Secretary General Hido Biscevic at a meeting in Stockholm yesterday.

Secretary General Biscevic stressed the importance of keeping EU focus on the Western Balkans and SEE in order to ensure that the region avoids potentially serious spillover effects of the world economic and financial crisis.

“In this sense, I told Minister Bildt that the RCC is working with the countries of SEE on identifying large-scale projects which would ensure regional development, complement EU integration, and utilize to a maximum extent the funds available under the EU’s Multi-beneficiary Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (MB IPA) Programme and through international financial institutions.”

The RCC Secretary General highlighted a need to separate resolution of remaining bilateral issues in SEE from European integration, as this may hamper implementation of the EU enlargement strategy.

The two officials also discussed possible joint activities during the Swedish EU Presidency in the second half of 2009, which are to be finalized in the coming months.

At a meeting with the Deputy Director General of the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), Magnus Lindell, Secretary General Biscevic invited SIDA to consider cooperation with the RCC on regional projects. Consequently, it was agreed that experts of the two institutions meet to come up with possible cooperation options.

Secretary General Biscevic also met with a delegation of the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, led by Lars Wahlund, Director of the Department for European Union, and a delegation of the Ministry of Justice, led by Ola Henrikson, Director General for Migration Affairs.