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EU President encourages regional cooperation in Western Balkans

In a recent tour of Western Balkan region Herman Van Rompuy, the President of the European Council, advocated stronger regional cooperation as a tool for peace, stability and development.

“In recent past, the countries of the Western Balkans were involved in violent conflicts and wars. In the nineties, Europe and the United States restored peace in the region. We promoted stability, security, democracy and freedom. We will continue to do so.” Van Rompuy stated in an official address on 18th October 2010 in Brussels. He further went on to say that: “Stronger regional cooperation must lead to good neighborly relations.”

The European Union has invested significant funds in the Western Balkans, a total of over 2 billion Euros for the 2010 to 2012 period, as well as other technical expertise and assistance. In the field of human capital development the most engaged European agency is the European Training Foundation (ETF), a close partner of SEECEL.

ETF has invested most of its resources in Western Balkans, and supports a number of projects in human capital development. ‘The ETF also works with regional organisations when implementing projects’, said Peter Greenwood, ETF’s Head of Operations. ‘We work with Regional Cooperation Council on the social inclusion project or with the South East European Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (SEECEL), supporting entrepreneurial learning in the region.’

Anthony Gribben, ETF team leader on entrepreneurship, also commented on the importance of international cooperation as a tool for strengthening regional cooperation: “Creating networks of entrepreneurship education experts to work on common development areas is key to the ETF’s core work and we are pleased that our sister organisation, SEECEL, has agreed to include this feature in its work programme.”

Efka Heder, SEECEL director, noted that “SEECEL ethos and modus operandi is based on promoting regional cooperation. As a representative institution of eight SEECEL member states, we are committed to bringing people together across the region to empower them to turn problems into opportunities. Individually, the nations of South East Europe have a great deal to offer, but the region itself still has a great deal of untapped human potential. Therefore, cooperation is crucial in increasing competitiveness in the region as well as globally and this can best be accomplished by helping societies to think and act entrepreneurially.”

Herman Van Rompuy's full statement can be found here.
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