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24 APR 2009

Education, research and innovation key to Western Balkans development, region’s ministers agree in Sarajevo today

Participants of the Ministerial Conference “Developing Regional Research Strategy for the Western Balkans” in Sarajevo, BiH on 24 April 2009. The RCC Secretary General Hido Biščević is fifth from the right. (Photo RCC/Samir Pinjagić)

Participants of the Ministerial Conference “Developing Regional Research Strategy for the Western Balkans” in Sarajevo, BiH on 24 April 2009. The RCC Secretary General Hido Biščević is fifth from the right. (Photo RCC/Samir Pinjagić)

SARAJEVO – Western Balkans ministers agreed today in Sarajevo to launch preparations of a regional research strategy, under the auspices of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) Secretariat and the Czech Presidency of the European Union.

The region’s ministers of science and research made the commitment at the Ministerial Conference “Developing Regional Research Strategy for the Western Balkans”. In a Joint Statement, they agreed to place cooperation on the Regional Research and Development Strategy high on their political agendas and establish competitive regional centres of excellence in the fields of interest, thus also facilitating integration of the Western Balkans into the EU.

The ministers encouraged increase of knowledge transfer through networks of researchers and scientists from the Western Balkans, and within the entire South East Europe (SEE); building young scientists' research capacity by supporting the scientists networks across the region and facilitating their training and cooperation; cooperation between the science and research community, and the business sector, particularly Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs); and creation of cross-border regional clusters in competitive sectors.

Opening the event, RCC Secretary General Hido Biscevic stressed that regional cooperation in the field of research was necessary for the overall development of SEE.

“Building a knowledge-based society is a precondition for a sustainable social and economic development in the region“, Biscevic said. “And given the current economic crisis, the role of science and research is paramount to increasing competitiveness.”

Deputy Czech Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, Vlastimil Ruzicka, drew attention to the three pillars of knowledge – education, research and innovation, and their regional and EU dimension.

“Utilization of talents and competences is a priority for the Western Balkans, also in view of successful regional cooperation and EU accession.”

The EU Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Potocnik, highlighted the European perspective as essential for the stability and prosperity of the region.

“By engaging together in research, the countries of the region will facilitate their integration into the European Research Area, which is an important step in the pre-accession process for European Union membership.”

The conference participants, which also included representatives of other RCC members from SEE, international organizations and important stakeholders, agreed to include a roadmap of future activities in the Regional Research and Development Strategy. The roadmap will be implemented by the regional stakeholders. The RCC will at the same time continue to facilitate the activities on the development and implementation of the Strategy.

The Joint Statement from the Ministerial Conference “Developing Regional Research Strategy for the Western Balkans” is available here in English and Montenegrin.

Speech by the RCC Secretary General, Hido Biscevic, is available HERE.

Speech of the European Commissioner for Science and Research Concept of the Regional Research Strategy for the Western Balkans, Janez Potočnik, is available HERE.

Speech of the Deputy Minister of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic, Vlastimil Růžička, is available HERE.

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