President Stevo Pendarovski and President Alexander Van der Bellen, within the framework of the official visit of the Austrian president to the Republic of North Macedonia, addressed today the Macedonian-Austrian economic forum “Strengthening Business Relations between North Macedonia and Austria”.
Distinguished President Van der Bellen,
Respected representatives of the Austrian and Macedonian business community,
The official visit of the esteemed president and our friend, Van der Bellen, symbolizes the long-standing Macedonian-Austrian friendship and partnership. There are no open issues between us and we receive constant, strong and principled Austrian support for our European integration and strategic interests. Therefore, it is an honor for me, on this special occasion, to greet you and wish you successful work at this Macedonian-Austrian business forum.
Taking into account the excellent bilateral relations, built trust and extremely fruitful economic cooperation, the key questions and findings that I want to address are: what should be the main goal of this Macedonian-Austrian business forum, in a time when Austria is already the biggest investor in North Macedonia? How can this Forum promote business cooperation, when some of the leading companies in the key areas of energy, telecommunications, construction, banking, insurance are owned by Austrian investors? The Macedonian and Austrian business communities have known each other long enough and well enough, but I am convinced that formal gatherings of this type can only contribute thereto!
There are at least three good reasons for todayќs meeting.
The first reason is that trade between North Macedonia and Austria is still small if you take into account the quality of bilateral relations, the number of Austrian companies on the Macedonian market and the development potential of both sides. It says that the opportunities for cooperation are not sufficiently used, especially in the ареа of agriculture and the food industry.
The second reason is the fact that Europe and the world are going through a crucial period. On the one hand, we are faced with numerous and intertwined crises that reinforce and deepen each other. There is no country that is not affected by geopolitical risks, energy crisis, price shocks and inflation. On the other hand, we are witnessing a rapid technological and digital transformation of production, of the market and the professions. The green agenda affects the change in consumer habits, and thus supply and demand. Innovation and new technologies can offer solutions to many of the challenges we face. These are the new fields of economic cooperation.
That leads us to the third reason for organizing this Forum. In order to successfully overcome the challenges and ensure long-term sustainable growth for North Macedonia, last year we adopted the Development Framework MKD2030 in which we established four development priorities. Among others, they include investment in education, digitization and the IT sector, agriculture, ecology and energy, especially clean energy. Those companies that will invest in the development of these areas in time will gain a competitive advantage on the Macedonian market in the coming decades. Therefore, I use this opportunity to invite Macedonian and Austrian companies to cooperate in the areas that have been determined to be our development strategic priorities in the future.
For Austria to continue to be the number one investor in North Macedonia, not only in the next few years but also in the next decades, it is necessary to open new economic cooperation prospects.
The role of the states is to create conditions so that you can cooperate more easily and better. There are no open issues between North Macedonia and Austria, only open possibilities. I hope that this Forum will be a confirmation of the previous quality cooperation, but also the beginning of a new phase of cooperation between companies from the two countries. I wish you a successful business meeting, I am sure that you will exchange important information and manage to connect in a way that would be beneficial for the improvement of the business climate in both countries.
Next year, in 2024, we will mark 30 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two friendly countries. On the eve of that significant anniversary, I invite you to take advantage of the trust gained and deepen the cooperation.