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Introduction.

Dear Readers,

In front of you is the latest issue of the foreign policy publication of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Crossroads, which we have dedicated to regional interconnectivity--one of the objectives of the foreign policy of the Republic of Macedonia.

Regional interconnectivity is the foundation not only of bilateral agendas but also of numerous regional initiatives, processes and structures, including the Central European Initiative, the South-East European Cooperation Process, and the Regional Cooperation Council, which are directly or indirectly related to the European Union concept of connecting the region of Southeast Europe through the implementation of common strategic projects.

The Region is fully committed to the European family. It is making effort in various ways and in diverse forms in order to get closer to the European Union and provide better economic conditions for all its citizens. This will also cushion the growing problems inside the Union relating to economic migrations that trouble present-day societies and are sometimes the cause of other negative tendencies.

This enterprising spirit of our Region is, in fact, in alignment with the efforts of the European Union to provide and promote overall harmonious growth through the development and carrying out of activities and measures of economic, social, and territorial cohesion.

On the one hand, the Republic of Macedonia and the countries of the Region reinforce their mutual connections, in terms of both infrastructure and energy, bilaterally and regionally, as well as in cooperation with their European partners, with a clear goal--to prepare better at a regional level for faster integration into the European Union.

On the other hand, the efforts of the European Union are particularly focused on decreasing disparity at all levels and across all regions, and on bridging gaps between favoured and less favoured regions. However, despite all the effort that the European Union has so far made to promote overall infrastructure in our Region with projects financed by the European funds, the Region is still not cohesive enough. There are a number of planned projects for which funding has not been provided. The people expect to be given a functional infrastructure that will facilitate their movement, communication, and, in general, their life in accordance with European standards.

In 2015 the Republic of Macedonia took the Presidency of the Central European Initiative. According to the CEI Mission, the integration of the Western Balkans into the European structures is a priority of the organisation. During the Macedonian Presidency in 2015, stress will be laid on the promotion of the advantages of the Region--economic and agricultural capacities, cultural heritage, etc--and on the benefits of developing the indispensable infrastructure of the Region for Europe's economic stability and security.

The priorities of the Macedonian Presidency of the CEI will be as follows:

Infrastructure. Special attention will be paid to establishing infrastructure connections, especially in terms of roads and energy, while highlighting Macedonia as the crossroads of the two most important corridors in the Region, Corridors VIII and X, which have also been made part of the EU plans.

Connecting Beneficiaries--Macro-Regional Strategies of the EU. The structural funds of three EU macro-regional strategies will be used in the CEI Region. They are the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, and the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region. Macedonia is the only CEI member state from the Western Balkans that is not included in either the EU Strategy for the Danube Region or the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region. The Presidency will be used to create possibilities for making the structural funds available to all those interested in using them. The issue will also be raised in the communication with other regional structures.

In conformity with the priority identified in the CEI Action Plan 2014-2016, during the organisation of the Business Forum 2015, the Presidency will endeavour to establish connections among the main business stakeholders of the Region that will be as strong and efficient as possible with the aim of ensuring that the Business Dimension becomes regarded as a regular and sustainable CEI activity.

The priorities will be achieved through the regular activities laid out in the calendar. They include meetings at various levels: a meeting of the ministers of foreign affairs, a summit of the prime ministers, together with a business forum, as well as several specialized meetings at ministerial and expert levels in the areas of transport, energy, information society, culture, agriculture, and local government. The Parliamentary Dimension will be carried out by holding a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee and the Parliamentary Assembly.

Also, in this issue of Crossroads, through the contributions of several other ministries, you will have the opportunity to learn about the activities of the Republic of Macedonia in other areas of regional interest and scope. Officials from several regional initiatives, organisations, and structures have also been invited to share their thoughts so that our readers have a chance of shaping a complete picture of the concerted effort made in attaining the goal of regional interconnectivity and further integration into the European Union.

It is my honour to invite you to read our latest issue of Crossroads, whereupon, I believe, you will become another staunch supporter of our activities.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikola POPOSKI
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Author:Poposki, Nikola
Publication:Crossroads Foreign Policy Journal
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Mar 1, 2015
Words:877
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