If they continue to make progress at such low average growth rates, Western Balkan countries might need almost two centuries to catch up with the European Union Member States’ average income, said European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Director for the Western Balkans Zsuzsanna Hargitai.

However, according to Hargitai, this can and has to change, especially because “countries in the Western Balkans have well-educated people, capable of being as productive as their peers in the Western Europe”.

Better institutions, less involvement of the state, more investments in infrastructure - those are the most important tasks, and the EBRD is here to assist in all of those sectors”, Hargitai said in an interview for Serbian monthly magazine ‘Biznis’.

She noted that the region had much greater economic potential as an integrated market, which is why EBRD firmly advocated stronger cooperation.

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