Thessaloniki, 5th Southeast Europe Energy Forum
On Friday, September 10th, 2021, during the 5th Southeast Europe Energy Forum (SEEF) that took place in Thessaloniki, a bilateral meeting was held between the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and AmCham North Macedonia. The fifth consecutive SEE Forum is organized by the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce and the Hellenic Association for Energy Economics in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy in Greece and with the strategic partnership of the Atlantic Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Pertaining to AmCham’s efforts for strengthening regional cooperation and unlocking potential business opportunities, the importance of regional stability and convergence of Western Balkan economies along with their integration into the Euro-Atlantic framework are considered as foundations for prosperity and economic growth.
Confirming the importance of bilateral cooperation between the neighboring countries, the Board of Directors representatives from both AmCham offices used this meeting to wrap up the activities discussed during the past several months. The meeting was attended by BoD President Nikolaos Bakatselos, Vice–President Vassilis Kafatos and Executive Director Elias Spirtounias representing the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce on one side, and BoD President Maja Filipcheva, Vice-President Nikola Ljushev, Secretary-Treasurer Dragan Davitkov and Executive Director Jelena Arsovska, representing AmCham North Macedonia, on the other.
The deepened collaboration is aimed to initiate joint projects and activities for the promotion of regional cooperation, expanding trade relations, and increasing the interconnectedness of the business community in the two countries.
As host, Nikos Bakatselos, President AmCham Greece, stated: “The American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce is committed towards creating partnerships that lead to international business development. Within that context, the meeting between AmChams of Greece and NorthMacedonia during the 5th Southeast Europe Energy Forum, including delegations from the respective US Embassies, resulted in the development of a roadmap that will enable members of the two chambers to interact and cooperate. Within this commonly agreed framework, the first action will be a trade delegation from Greece to North Macedonia in the month of October.”
Maja Filipceva, President AmCham North Macedonia, pointed out the importance of having the support of our EU neighbors for regional economic integration, attracting investments, and increasing competitiveness prior the formal inclusion in the EU market: “The corporate world has always benefited from knowledge sharing and support from the bigger and more developed markets, and in this case, we are fortunate that we can lean on the support from our colleagues from AmCham Greece. Our synergy will drive both our countries toward smart investments, energy diversification, expanding business operations and enhancing trade of both goods and services”.
Highlighting the significance of enhancing the regional cooperation, this meeting was attended by US Ambassador to North Macedonia, Ms. Kate Mary Byrnes, Deputy Chief of Mission to Greece Mr. David Burger, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Energy Resources Mr. Kurt Donnelly, that emphasized the importance of empowering businesses to raise their voice, act and take steps towards shaping the future of the South-East European region, by fortifying their international ties.
“The meeting held between the leaderships of both AmChams with the presence of the US Embassies and senior representative from the State Dept during the occasion of the 5th Southeast Europe Energy Forum at Thessaloniki signals the willingness of both AmChams to explore effective business collaborations that will further empower the economic and trade relations between the two countries. It also demonstrates the dynamic of the AmCham’s network in fostering business and economic relations globally. The two AmChams agreed among others for the organization of a trade mission from Greece to Skopje in the next month with more details to be announced soon.” – said Mr. Elias Spirtounias, Executive Director of the American-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce confirming the importance of the meeting and the future joint activities confirmed by both AmCham.
In support of the previous statements and emphasizing both AmChams’ willingness to take a proactive approach to their collaboration for future activities, Ms. Jelena Arsovska Executive Director of AmCham North Macedonia stated: “Building bridges and creating partnerships are what Amcham North Macedonia strives for when creating a better business environment. I believe that we as a business community should set a positive example and show that only with joint efforts and with results-oriented projects there can be a beneficial impact on the business ecosystem, the environment, and its people. We expect that the upcoming trade mission will be such an example and look forward to being an as good host as our colleagues have been for us.”
The 5th Southeast Europe Energy Forum itself, brought together key policymakers, thought leaders, regulators, top market players, financiers, academics, and experts who presented and discussed all the latest developments in the dynamic energy field in Greece and the wider SE European region. The main agenda of the Forum focused on the energy map of the region and the prospects that are created, the opportunities and risks in the context of geopolitical developments, the utilization of alternative energy sources, the increase of energy costs and the supply chain, the impact of digitization and automation in the Energy sector, as well as energy collaborations across borders and the investment role of regional markets in SE Europe.
In the true spirit of the Forum, a cooperation agreement was signed between NER JSC North Macedonia and DEFSA SA Greece for the construction and development of a Greece – North Macedonia Gas Interconnector.