The main regional event for the environment-related transnational cooperation in 2021
PRESS RELEASE - 10 November 2021, Izola, Slovenia
With the official opening, attended by 100 people from all the EUSAIR participating countries and abroad, the 6th edition of the “Mediterranean Coast and Macro-regional Strategies Week” took place – in the entire online format. It is organized in two time slots – from 9 – 11 and 22 – 23 November and for the very first time jointly by Slovenia and North Macedonia. From the humble beginnings of a local event, it has grown into a high-profile European event, focusing on the EU member states as well non-members relevant topics (policies, innovations, flagship projects, environmental issues, etc.) in the region. The event itself aims to raise awareness about the sea and its hinterland, the natural and economic potential it boasts and outlines the risks as a result of natural phenomena and human activities. It brings together politicians, decision-makers, experts, civil society, and the interested public from all levels – local, regional, national and international.
As emphasized by Andreja Jerina, National Coordinator for the EU Macro-regional Strategies in Slovenia from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Member of the EUSAIR Governing Board and EUSAIR Trio Presidency, and Zuica Zmejkovska, Deputy Head of Sector for Coordination of European Funds and Other Foreign Assistance and EUSAIR EU Funds National Coordination within Secretariat for European Affairs at the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia, during the press conference before the official opening: “The joint event brings an entirely new dimension – EU and non-EU country, hand in hand jointly organising serious of events, discussions, and exchange of views, strengthening bonds among European countries. This would not be possible without the indispensable facilitation role of EUSAIR Facility Point, both at the Government office for development and cohesion policy and in Izola. And this is why EU macro-regional strategies are recognised as laboratories for the new Europe. We are inclusive, we build on mutual trust, we are future-oriented, and we bring progress to the region, on the ground, to the people.”
The official opening keynote speakers pointed out concrete outcomes of the macro-regional strategies and underlined that without cooperation there are no appropriate solutions and there is no common future (highlights from their speeches):
Kalinka Gaber, State Secretary, Secretariat for European Affairs, North Macedonia
“This year’s event is a demonstration of a long-lasting friendship and strong collaboration between Slovenia and North Macedonia. It also represents a step further in showing the dedication of the EUSAIR countries to boost and reinforce the links of mutual cooperation, where EU member states and those who are not yet part of the EU family, stand on an equal footing. The “new dimension” that this year’s Week aims to bring is related to the attention we would like to give to the landlocked parts of the Adriatic and Ionian macro-region, building on the previous awareness about the seas and coastlines this event has been traditionally addressing. I am sure that the discussion in all of the meetings envisaged within the Mediterranean Coast and Macro-Regional Strategies Week 2021 will be fruitful, and more importantly, will bring the most needed benefit to the people of the region.”
Gašper Dovžan, State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Slovenia
“It is essential that, within the macro region, we act in an organized and harmonized way. Our countries can jointly develop and implement much larger and cost-effective projects rather than by individual means. But understanding the essence of macro-regional cooperation and awareness raising among the ones who do not know macro-regions and their potential yet, is a basis for effective work and tangible results in operative tasks. A prerequisite for such, effective acting is adequate governance of the EUSAIR. We see efforts in other macro-regional strategies to which Slovenia participates, to establish and ensure the stability of their governance support structures. The EUSAIR already has such an instrument in its Facility Point. I would like to use this occasion to express our appreciation for the indispensable role of the Facility Point for effective operating, reinforced governance and visibility of the EUSAIR and nevertheless for its role in organization of this very event.”
Senad Oprašić, Thematic Steering Group Environmental Quality Coordinator, Bosnia and Herzegovina
“We are happy that North Macedonia is with us to complete the EUSAIR region and promote cooperation in the process of the EU integration. All of these activities will help non-EU EUSAIR countries to recognize the importance of protected areas and spatial planning. It is of great importance that the representatives of EUSAIR countries will deliver their key problems that need to be solved in close cooperation with other EUSAIR countries. In front of us are many processes, such as Green Agenda for Western Balkan Countries with 5 pillars – 1. Climate, energy, mobility, 2. Circular economy, 3. Depollution, 4. Sustainable agriculture and food production and 5. Biodiversity. In that regards, I would like to invite the EU for support in drafting the projects that will be the key issue for the implementation of the Green Agenda for Western Balkan (non-EU) countries. Support will be seen via close collaboration, access to knowledge, as well as access to information, that is a task of EUSAIR Facility Point, to share it in the processes of implementation our activities, to enhance Green and Blue Connectivity, that will help us in enlargement process to the Western Balkan Countries. It will be great news for the region that the EU starts negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. The joint workshop is one step forward in that direction.”
Aleksej Skok, Deputy Mayor, Municipality of Izola, Slovenia
“We are really honoured to be hosting Mediterranean Coast and Macro-Regional Strategies Week for the 6th year in a row within the EUSAIR Facility Point project. The latter has more than accomplished the expectations of the citizens of Izola and is now one of the best practices of collaboration between local, national, and European levels. We participate in the progressive macro-regional projects from the beginning, since they enrich the culture of cooperation and cohabitation. And the only way to seriously answer the modern challenges, be they environmental, maritime, transport, or touristic, is to cross the borders between municipalities, regions, and countries. This event is a bright example of the answer to the previously mentioned challenge – and is not solely between Slovenia and North Macedonia, Ljubljana and Skopje; there are also Izola and Ohrid, and many other cities and citizens of both countries. In addition, we are convinced that output should not be measured by the financial capacity only. There are many others, “soft” factors, such as exchange of know-how, collaborative practices and especially close relations between EU member states and those that would like to join. In our projects we often live the enlargement process long before its future political realization.”
After the official Mediterranean Coast and Macro-regional Strategies Week 2021 opening on Wednesday, 10 November, two workshops will follow on the next day (»EUSAIR – How can we embed innovation potentials around flagship projects?” and “Benchmarking of innovation policies in EU macro-regions/sea basins”). In the second time slot, on 22 November, North Macedonia will organize “Meeting of EUSAIR key implementers and Programming Authorities” and “Roundtable: Youth and protection of the environment”.
You may find the 6th Mediterranean Coast and Macro-regional Strategies Week programme by clicking the following link.
EUSAIR is an EU strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian region, addressing the region's common challenges and strengthening stakeholder engagement for economic, social, and territorial cohesion. The strategy was adopted by the European Commission in 2014, making it the third macro-regional strategy in the EU involving nine countries: Greece, Croatia, Italy, Slovenia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and from 2020 on Northern Macedonia. It is based on four thematic pillars: blue growth, connecting the region, environmental quality, and sustainable tourism. Slovenia, together with Bosnia and Herzegovina, coordinates the pillar of Environmental Quality, while the Municipality of Izola as Slovenian EUSAIR Facility Point project partner performs the tasks of the secretariat for that pillar. The objectives are to improve the quality of life on the shores of the common sea, preserve biodiversity and better manage river basins through concrete arrangements and enforce regimes based on respect for ecosystem services on land, on the coast and at sea in the Adriatic-Ionian region. More information you may find at https://www.adriatic-ionian.eu/about-eusair/pillars/green-pillar/.