The U.S. wholeheartedly supports efforts in the Western Balkans toward deepening and strengthening inclusive regional economic integration in line with the rules and standards of the European Union, an unnamed spokesperson of the U.S. Department of State said on Aug. 13.
The U.S. encourages the region's leaders to look for opportunities to reduce trade barriers, increase economic competitiveness and build regionally integrated and resilient economies, which provide what the citizens need, the spokesperson said when asked by Voice of America (VoA) to comment on the U.S. position regarding the Open Balkans initiative on one side and the Berlin Process on the other.
The spokesperson also said that the creation of a common regional market - which ensures that there is free movement of people, goods and services - was key to attracting investment and boosting economic growth.
The Western Balkans are a region of vast untapped potential, embodied in the vision and efforts of the people who live there to become a successful and prosperous region, wholly integrated into the EU, the spokesperson said.
Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia continue to work on their Open Balkans initiative, which has not received support from the other Balkan countries so far.
Kosovo Premier Albin Kurti has openly criticized the initiative, calling it "an initiative open for Russian interests." Other critics say there is no need for it because a mechanism for more comprehensive cooperation in the region already exists - the Berlin Process.