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‘Mini Schengen’ Out, ‘Open Balkan’ In: Balkan Trio Rebrand Stagnating Economic Initiative

Albania, Serbia and North Macedonia have renamed their Mini Schengen initiative for a free economic area in the Western Balkans to “Open Balkan.”

This decision follows 2 years of meetings between the 3 leaders and the refusal of the 3 remaining Western Balkan countries – Bosnia, Kosovo and Montenegro – to join the initiative.

On Thursday, during a regional economic forum in Skopje, Edi Rama of Albania, Aleksandar Vucic of Serbia and host Zoran Zaev of North Macedonia signed a collaboration agreement on natural disasters, and two memorandums covering the facilitation of trade and of peoples’ movement.

Rama and Vucic called on the people in the region to leave behind the painful past and look forward to economic prosperity.

Kosovo prime minister Albin Kurti dismissed today’s meeting and the initiative as a whole as “visionless,” and called for regional countries to enter a trade agreement with the European Union instead.

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