UNMIK sparks economic cooperation for sustainable peace and development in the Western Balkans

25 Jun 2024

UNMIK sparks economic cooperation for sustainable peace and development in the Western Balkans

Harnessing the power of regional economic cooperation as a pathway to sustainable peace and development was the idea behind an UNMIK-supported forum that gathered entrepreneurs and business development professionals in the Rugova Mountains.

The SPARKS Forum was held from June 23-25 in Kosovo’s Pejë/ Peć region, with about 50 participants from across the ‘Western Balkans 6’.

Organized by the Kosovo-based Liberal Democratic Centre and the Musine Kokalari Institute for Social Policy the forum and follow-up activities will contribute to implementing the economic empowerment recommendations arising from the UN Kosovo Trust-building Forum held in Thessaloniki in November 2023.

"The imperative of closer cooperation as a foundation of stability and economic resilience in the Western Balkans cannot be overstated. We must gear up our collective potential and chart a course toward inclusive regional growth," the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNMIK, Caroline Ziadeh, said as she opened the event.


SRSG Ziadeh was joined by former Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga and the Women in Tech Kosovo Chapter director Teuta Sahatqija to launch the forum under the motto “Together. Tomorrow.”

Building on existing regional development processes, the three-day forum provided a platform for women, young entrepreneurs, innovators, business leaders, chambers of commerce, and civil society activists to explore new avenues of cooperation and business-to-business connections to enable a more cohesive, stable, and prosperous Western Balkans.

During deliberations across four panel discussions, forum participants highlighted the value of entrepreneurship in leading progress in the region by bringing people together. They called on decision-makers to remove obstacles to free trade and freedom of movement in the Western Balkans and to integrate the market.

"Market fragmentation in the Western Balkans is the biggest obstacle for companies delivering digital services, and we need to reverse that," Global CT Digital Kosovo CEO Arbnor Halili said.

Digital Den project coordinator Neda Mijović, from Montenegrin capital Podgorica, emphasized that cooperation among private entities within the region was helping unite the Western Balkans and connecting it to the EU and other markets. “The private sector drives growth and our cooperation within the region is helping bring Western Balkans together and connecting it to the EU and US markets," she added.