Serbia, the Biggest Beneficiary of the Open Balkans as Albania and North Macedonia Lose

Serbia is the biggest beneficiary, especially economically, of the Balkan Mini-Schengen because it exports more than any other Balkan country.

This was declared by former Deputy Finance Minister Irena Beqiraj in an interview for a local TV on Monday during which she dwelt on the deal reached by the premiers of Albania and North Macedonia Edi Rama and Zoran Zaev, and the Serbian President, Aleksandar Vucic in Skopje on July 30 this year.

The name of the initiative was changed from Mini-Schengen to Open Balkans on that occasion.

"I would be for a common market with Kosovo and to facilitate trade through documents and procedures that hinder customs. Also, we must have common borders, which means to have one border stop and not several," she said.

In addition, Beqiraj explained that Serbia will be the biggest beneficiary because it exports more in the region and will be the fastest beneficiary if there is a customs union. "I think that Albania and North Macedonia should not enter this path. We should not have a customs union, but we should have a common market," said the former finance minister.

In the meantime, she stressed that Serbia has a free trade agreement with Russia, while Albania does not. "We do not know where to go, and this is political acrobatics without economic benefit for Albania and North Macedonia."

The ex-FinMin said that there can be no customs union between the Balkan countries due to their economic level. "We need to deepen CEFTA. All countries in the region need to work hard on their domestic economies. The initiative is dangerous, we will waste time in vain, "said Beqiraj. /argumentum.al