Thank you Mr Chairman.
Dear Presidents, Prime Ministers, Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Yesterday the Regional Table endorsed the proposal to appoint Hido Biscevic as the first Secretary General of the Regional Co-operation Council (RCC), and to designate Sarajevo as the seat of the RCC Secretariat.
The Regional Table of the Stability Pact also adopted the Statute of the RCC, as an annex to the Chairman’s conclusion.
These endorsements put a historical seal on the final phase of the transition from the Stability Pact to the RCC, and will set the stage for a new era of co-operation in South Eastern Europe, one of real regional ownership.
The main message from the Regional Table is that the ambitious agenda that we set almost two years ago, at the Sofia and Belgrade Regional Tables, has been today almost accomplished.
Now the reins of regional co-operation are firmly in your hands.
When you are approving today the decisions taken by your Foreign Ministers yesterday on the establishment of the RCC, you can do so knowing that you have the backing of the broad Stability Pact community.
These decisions are a clear demonstration of a new constructive and responsible atmosphere in the region.
Let me congratulate you, and in particular the Croatian SEECP CiO − Kolinda Grabar−Kitarovic, Hido Biscevic, Boris Grigic and their team − who led you through this process, for both the results achieved and the way through which we arrived here.
Such a high degree of co-operation between the countries of the region was not thinkable only a few years ago, when regional initiatives were mainly designed, proposed and pushed by the Stability Pact, under the leadership of the international community.
The new set-up implies a change of paradigm in regional co-operation, and will change deeply the way your countries interact with each other.
You will now have a dedicated Secretariat to enhance the political relevance and the efficiency of regional co-operation, and to ensure that regional co-operation is linked with the process of European integration.
It is up to you now to make the best out of this new tool. I call you to commit, starting from today, to the full operational set-up of the RCC Secretariat, focusing on functionality and efficiency rather than on political prestige, especially when it will come to staffing the new institution.
The next important step in implementing our joint efforts will be the negotiation of a seat agreement for the RCC Secretariat.
Ownership means responsibility, and from next year on you will be in charge of many concrete initiatives on the ground, which are currently operating under the framework of the Stability Pact.
We as Stability Pact are committed to give the necessary support to the new Secretary General to ensure a smooth handover to the RCC, in February 2008.
We hope that by handing over to the RCC the functions that the Pact performed so far we also transmit the spirit of the Pact, and its legacy as a unique forum for co-operation in the region and between the region and the international community.
International support will still be available, but it is up to your countries to fill this RCC with life, to make it a success story and thereby show that South Eastern Europe is a different region today than it was in the 1990s. This will require the commitment of all South East European parties and any divisions will not only damage the process but the image of the region as a whole.
The RCC will only be effective if it will enjoy the support of all its members, and if all the members will work together to achieve the common goal of a strong and sustainable regional co-operation in support of EU and Euro Atlantic integration.
It is in this strategic goal that lies the future of SEE lies, and it is our common interest for this to become a reality soon.