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Wednesday, August 15, 2018, 

DSWB6: Western Balkan countries outline digital transformation goals

DSWB6: Western Balkan countries outline digital transformation goals

Skopje, 19 April 2018 (MIA) - Western Balkan countries pledge to reduce roaming charges within the region and with the European Union and have defined the goals for digital transformation aimed at bolstering cooperation and economic development, thus facilitating their integration into the Union.

Technological transformation of the Western Balkan countries and their full digitization is one of the top priorities of the governments in the region, concluded participants in the two-day Western Balkans Digital Summit in Skopje. "It will significantly contribute to job creation, salary hikes in the region, improving services, industries, education, combating corruption," Minister of Information Society and Administration Damjan Mancevski told a closing press conference on Thursday.

From Skopje we are sending a message to the next two summits in Sofia and London that we belong to the EU, he said. "We have a lot of work to do, but we will make it because finally there is a political will. The Digital Summit in Skopje confirms this assertion," Mancevski stated.

Many ideas and experiences were shared throughout the summit, where also a lot of joint projects have been agreed.

"We vowed we will work together to cut roaming charges in the region and with the EU countries. We have expressed our commitment to introduce regional dialogue with several parties involved, with operators, IT companies and organizations protecting consumers, which are supported by the Regional Cooperation Council and the European Commission," the Minister noted.

Speaking at the news conference, Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov said that the summit's agenda was connected with one of the six flagship initiatives of the EU's Western Balkans Strategy.

"The Summit in Sofia will introduce this endeavor of the region to the EU members and I hope that some concrete results will be produced, which will be felt by the citizens, namely roaming services amongst other things," he stressed.

At the first-ever Western Balkans Digital Summit, countries from the region pledged to improve access to broadband internet, show preparedness and an initiative to enable mutual recognition of digital certificates, signatures and stamps, and facilitate cross-border confidential services. They urged they would follow the application of the WIFI4EU European initiative, under which more than 6,000 communities across the EU will be provided with free high-speed wi-fi connection by 2020.

They will join forces to heighten cyber security and to implement the European Directive on Security of Network and Information Systems. Also, efforts will be made to create ICT education policies.

The closing of the Summit's official agenda is followed by a debate on the media in the digital era and how to combat fake news. It is moderated by FM Dimitrov.

The Western Balkans Digital Summit was opened on Wednesday by Commissioner for Digital Economy Mariya Gabriel, who said that more concrete steps as regards roaming charges reduction will be made at the upcoming summit in Sofia on May 17. Macedonian PM Zoran Zaev said the countries were prepared to pay subsidies to cover the losses of mobile operators after cutting down roaming fees.

The next digital summit is expected to take place in Sofia. ba/16:03

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