The US State Department says it supports any regional initiative based on European Union rules aimed at economic empowerment of the Western Balkan countries.

This comment came after the meeting held in Ohrid of Northern Macedonia, within the "Open Balkans".

In a statement to Radio Free Europe, a DASH spokesman declined to comment on Kosovo's non-participation in the meeting, but said that "closer and more integrated co-operation throughout the Western Balkans will attract energy investment." , banking, manufacturing, services and other sectors in a market of 20 million educated workers and customers in the heart of Europe ”.

"The United States supports these and other complementary initiatives, which collectively deepen regional economic cooperation and advance the European path," the DASH spokesman told REL.

Present at the Ohrid meeting were the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, the Prime Minister of Northern Macedonia, Dimitar Kovacevski, the Prime Minister of Montenegro, Dritan Abazovic, and the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Zoran Tageltija.

Northern Macedonia, Albania and Serbia on Wednesday signed four co-operation agreements - on the fight against tax evasion, the recognition of higher education diplomas, cultural co-operation and co-operation in the field of tourism.

Speaking via video link, the US special envoy for the Western Balkans, Gabriel Escobar, said the US supported the "Open Balkans" initiative.

But Escobar added that the states that have joined the initiative must commit to equal treatment for every state in the Western Balkans.

"We believe that in order for this initiative ['Open Balkans'] to be successful, it must be open to all.

"Any initiative for economic development must include all the countries of the Western Balkans in equal treatment," said Escobar.

Escobar called on participants in the meeting to harmonize the "Open Balkans" with other active initiatives in the region, including the Berlin Process, and urged regional leaders not to politicize the initiative.

"I sincerely encourage you to keep this initiative economical.

It is not a political project.

It is an important economic project.

"If you keep it as an economic initiative you will have more support," said Escobar.

Although there was an invitation to participate, the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, refused this meeting because he said that Kosovo remains engaged in the Berlin Process.

Kurti said the "Open Balkans" is more like an "Open Balkans for Eastern influences" than an initiative for a common regional market.

The three initiators of the "Open Balkans", the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vuiqiiq, and the former Prime Minister of Northern Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, conceived this concept in 2019. They said that it aims creating an area of ​​free movement of people, goods and services in the Western Balkans.