“At the political level in the Western Balkans we no longer have a problem, we have outgrown the past. We all know that if we want the region to prosper, we need to develop infrastructure and attract investment.” Thus, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov opened the Investment Forum for the Western Balkans, organized in London by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The main objective of the forum is to bring together regional leaders with potential investors from around the world to discuss ways of attracting more support from the private, financial and public sectors to implementing strategic infrastructure projects in the Western Balkans.
Borissov mentioned that, on 1 March in Sofia, he will host a meeting between the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the leaders of the six countries from the region aspiring to join the EU, whereby it is expected to announce the specific commitments to financing the various segments of the road, rail and digital connectivity projects in the Western Balkans. According to preliminary estimates, the required financial resources amount to approximately 30 billion euros. According to the Bulgarian Prime Minister, the amount is not comparable to the costs incurred during the Balkan wars of the 1990s, estimated at nearly 50 billion euros, not taking into consideration the lost lives and the regress in the region’s development by decades.
Borissov underlined that the main investments must come from Europe because these countries are “part of our Europe ... if in certain respect we lack funds or there is no interest, then we can turn to other investors but we have our own institutions.” Pointing to the interest shown by the EBRD, as well as the World Bank's commitment and possible funding from the European Commission, Borissov said it was “time to talk in numbers and deadlines.” The Prime Minister expressed his expectation for the projects to be completed within the next 7-8 years, as most are already started.
Prime Minister Boyko Borissov urged his colleagues from the Western Balkans to show that they are prepared for the great interest in the region so that it can be maintained and the integration process turned irreversible.