For 30 projects part of the first round of the INTERREG IPA Program of cross-border cooperation for Italy, Albania and Montenegro from 2014-2020, 30 million euro will be allocated, out of the total program budget of 93 million.
This was announced on Wednesday at a ceremony marking the beginning of the projects. The European Affairs Ministry (MEP) has stated the goals of the Program are support to social and economic development through intervention in the area of small and medium businesses, sustainable tourism and safeguarding of natural and cultural heritage, protection of environment and prevention of risk, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance of the European Union.
As they added, the goal is also to advance mobility and transportation structure. General director of European funds at the MEP, Ivana Glišević Đurović, stated she is convinced that 30 projects in the first round, valued at 30,4 million euro, will achieve concrete and visible results in all three nations, enable permanent and stable partnerships and justify the EU trust in the trilateral cooperation model between Montenegro, Albania and Italy.
She noted that Montenegro, although the smallest participating county, has managed to respond to demands from Albania and Italy in the sense of creating reliable and strong partnerships and recognizing joint development priorities and needs.
Montenegro partners make up almost a third of the partner structure of approved projects, whose activities in the first round will receive around 8,2 million euro. “The Montenegro organizations and institution are leading partners in five supported projects, which is a great success for us and an indicator that we are more ready to responsible and efficiently manage EU funds,” said Glišević Đurović.
She listed some of the results and messages the completion of projects will, among other things, bolster inter-Adriatic transportation through new airline connections between Podgorica, Bari, Brindisi and Tirana, as well as maritime connections between Taranto, Bar, Kotor and Drač ports.
She stated focus will be on creating a regional center and the agreement and integration of national risk management plans for floods and landslides. “There will also be joint laboratories for the exchange of ideas and innovation in agriculture, which will ease cooperation of small and medium businesses and the science community, as well as support the exchange of innovative business models between the three countries, while 12 projects will deal with advancing the tourism offer,” she cited.
EC representative Simona Pohlova reminded of a recently adopted document of the Commission which strengthens the perspective of the Western Balkans, noting the Program contributes to the realization of goals from that document and supports the expansion perspectives for Montenegro and Albania.
“The EC is currently pondering future activities. We are intensely discussing what European cohesion politics will look like after 2020. This is an opportunity to use the Program and demonstrate how quality results can be achieved,” said Pohlova.
According to her, it is essential to show the Program is not only a means to spend EU funds, but that the realization of projects can contribute to significant change in the region. The Italian Ambassador in Podgorica, Luka Zeioli, said the Program encompasses important areas, noting the importance of sustainable tourism and environmental protection, of equal importance to all three nations.
Advisor of the Albanian Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Genola Velo stated the projects in the Program will advance strategic cross-border cooperation, bring about palpable results for citizens of all three countries and enable better, healthier and more competitive society. She rated the additional value of the Program is an exchange of experiences between project users and dissemination of the European way of thinking.
Chief of the Program management body, Domenico Laforgia, feels that sustainability and cooperation are of crucial importance to the success and positive outcomes. He reminded the EC is currently preparing proposals for the 2021-2027 program period. “We will be part of this process only if we show this Program is efficient and effective and represents realistic and increased additional value for all participating territories,” said Laforgia.
Translated from Vijesti Online, click here for the original.