I am Takeichi, Chief Representative of JICA Balkan Office.
JICA Balkan Office is the only JICA office in the world, which has a name, not of a specific country, but of the region. As the name says, I am in charge of six countries in the Western Balkan, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.
In this region, known for the collapse of ex-Yugoslavia and the conflicts that followed, the stability has been restored, and each country has been making efforts to conduct reforms necessary for the accession to the EU. These six countries have been important partners to Japan and, in 2018, the Government of Japan introduced "Initiative for Western Balkans" which promotes the cooperation with this entire region.
Based on this strategy, JICA will continue development cooperation with each of these countries, especially, tackling the development issues related to environmental protection and private sector development in the region. We are also considering formulation and implementation of new projects in these fields.
Japanese people might have an impression of the Balkans as far away region, because it is geographically far from Japan. However, local people are very friendly and fond of Japan. This region has a long history and rich culture with easy access to huge markets such as Europe, Russia and Middle East, hence, it has a great potential for tourism and business.
We plan to continue providing assistance to the local people, while dedicating to the activities that will make Japan and Balkan region closer.