Skopje, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 15 November 2002
Statement by Mrs. Brigita Schmögnerová
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)
Mr. Chair, Excellencies,
Distinguished Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honour and pleasure for me to participate in the CEI Summit and to address you.
I would like to express my appreciation for the efforts being made by CEI Governments of Member States towards achieving long-term stability in the Region, and to the common and joint efforts towards sustainable growth and development. The Central European Initiative is making a remarkable contribution to promoting peace and prosperity in Europe through dialogue and cooperation projects.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has contributed to your efforts in the past and will continue in the direction of achieving common objectives, moving towards achievements in the transition process, closer integration within Europe, and economic, social and environmental development.
Since 1998 when a Memorandum of Understanding and a Cooperation Programme were signed, UNECE has been closely cooperating with the CEI institutional framework and Secretariats in Trieste and in London.
The main lines of cooperation in the economic dimension include (1) promotion of economic cooperation through trade facilitation, ICT, SME development; (2) providing advice to CEI governments; (3) development of projects in individual countries, like, for example, micro-financing in Albania; (4) contribution to the Summit Economic Forum; (5) investment promotion through the Investiguide.
For the third year the UNECE has prepared a publication for investors in cooperation with the CEI, "Investiguide", which also reflects the focus of the 5th CEI Summit Economic Forum of "investing in European cooperation".
In the immediate future, the UNECE-CEI cooperation will have to take up the challenges and opportunities of EU enlargement. The UNECE will work in the area of legislative framework that would promote integration between the enlarged-EU and non-acceding countries.
The UNECE will pay special attention to those countries that will not be a part of the first round of EU enlargement. The intention is to facilitate their future integration into the EU through speeding-up the transition process and the accession process.
We are facing the challenge of economic globalization and the responsibility for making it human-friendly. In the Millennium Declaration, Governments made commitments to increase prosperity and reduce poverty, to improve human capital, to enhance peace and security, to prevent environmental degradation.
The UNECE's role is to facilitate Governments' fulfilling the commitments in the Millennium Declaration and other declarations adopted in Monterrey at the Conference on Financing for Development (Monterrey Consensus), in Johannesburg at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Plan of Implementation) or in Madrid at the Second World Assembly on Ageing, and in Berlin at the Ministerial Conference on Ageing.
We would like to extend our cooperation with the CEI members in implementing the political commitments in the areas of trade and trade facilitation, transport, industrial restructuring, enterprise development, and environment. The UNECE's five environmental conventions and nine protocols are intended to combat air and water pollution, improve the use of water, prevent industrial accidents, assess the cross-border effects of projects before they are given the go-ahead, and foster public participation in decision-making.
Some of the CEI Member States will have to address other important challenges: like the issue of poverty, growing income disparities, high unemployment rate, and intergenerational solidarity in the context of ageing. The Regional Implementation Strategy (RIS) on Ageing adopted in Berlin represents an excellent starting point for dealing with this important economic, social, political and human rights issue. The UNECE would like to promote exchange of best practices and experience in this field.
Most of the CEI members have to face the challenge of strengthening governance and participatory democracy. A consistent part of it is the fight against corruption which undermines economic efficiency and increases social disparities. We would like to extend our involvement in promoting good governance from the government level to the corporate sector. The ongoing work on the preparation of the UN Convention against corruption, once completed, will give the opportunity to Governments to make new commitments in this respect.
The recent Regional Ministerial Conference on the Information Society in Bucharest adopted the Bucharest Declaration which includes fundamental principles of the Information Society. The development of the Information Society will enhance democracy, prosperity and stability in the region. We should prevent a new digital divide that would slow down the catching-up process. A closer cooperation of UNECE and CEI in this field could reduce the risk of new gaps.
Excellencies! Regional cooperation is and will remain an efficient framework for addressing new challenges, for peace and security, and sustainable development. We should take advantage of it.