The sectors of Agriculture, Renewable Energy, and Raw Material Production have been identified as priority sectors with innovative potential during the mapping phase of the Smart Specialization Strategy (S3) and have generated interest in collaboration between Albania and North Macedonia.
In this context, the Albanian National S3 Team, in collaboration with the National S3 Team of North Macedonia, under the special care of the Deputy Prime Minister of Albania, Ms. Belinda Balluku, and with the support of the Union of Albanian Producers, the Open Society Foundation for Albania, and the Chamber of Commerce of Women, organized a regional workshop on agriculture, renewable energy, and raw material production on July 7, 2023. Approximately 40 representatives from the four helixes (central and local government, academia, business, civil society) from both countries participated in this event. They shared their experiences in the fields of agriculture, renewable energy, and raw material production, discussed perspectives on intelligent development in these sectors, and focused on strengthening cooperation between the two countries.
The meeting was opened by Ms. Linda Pustina, Chair of the Albanian National S3 Team and Advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister of Albania, and Mr. Ilir Bejtja, Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy, Ms. Jasmina Majstoroska, Head of Industrial and Investment Policies and Chair of the National S3 Team for North Macedonia. The panel also included Ms. Florensa Haxhi, an expert and member of the Albanian National S3 Team, Ms. Ljubica Gerasimova, Head of the Department for Programming EU Funds at the Secretariat for European Affairs, Mr. Klodjan Seferaj, Program Manager at the Open Society Foundation for Albania, and Ms. Antonela Hako, President of the Chamber of Commerce of Women. They emphasized the importance of regional cooperation within the context of the Berlin Process and common objectives, as well as the significance of bilateral cooperation between Albania and North Macedonia. The discussions were facilitated by Mr. Arben Shkodra, Secretary-General of the Union of Albanian Producers and an expert from the Albanian National S3 Team, and Ms. Irena Malolli, Director of the Policies and Development Strategies Directorate for Telecommunications and Postal Services at the Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy in Albania.
Participants were divided into working groups (tables) based on the themes, with each group consisting of representatives from the four helixes from both countries. Discussions were conducted separately in three sessions. The first session began by identifying the challenges and opportunities in the agriculture, renewable energy, and raw material production sectors in Albania and North Macedonia, identifying commonalities and the potential for collaboration in these three sectors. Additionally, representatives from all four helixes discussed opportunities for regional and international cooperation, including sharing experiences, developing joint projects, and creating collaborative platforms. The work in the group of participants continued with discussions on opportunities for collaboration and financing for project initiatives in the two priority sectors in Albania and North Macedonia. In this session, emphasis was placed on identifying strategies to improve access to financing, securing financial resources for innovative projects, and increasing capacities to achieve the objectives of Smart Specialization. The final session focused on proposing concrete initiatives and projects, as well as identifying the necessary resources for their success in the future.
This regional workshop was conducted as a continuation of the previous roundtable discussions and national workshops held within the framework of the Smart Specialization Strategy. The conclusions drawn from this meeting will serve as the basis for the development of the S3 Strategy, the priorities of collaboration between the two countries in the context of S3, and the preparation of the document "Recommendations on Policies for Enhancing Competitiveness of Western Balkan Countries and the Region as a Whole," which will be presented at the Western Balkans Summit to be held in Tirana in October 2023.Report of Bilateral Workshops