Message from the Chief Representative

Established in Belgrade, Serbia in October 2006, JICA Balkan Office covers Western Balkans.

The long history of JICA's cooperation in Western Balkans started at very early stage of Japan's Official Development Assistance (ODA); JICA received a participant for training in Japan from former Yugoslavia in 1957. JICA expanded its cooperation in Eastern Europe when the democratization and liberalization in these countries began in 1990s, and established Austria Office in Vienna in January 1992 as a base of its operation in Eastern Europe. After EU accession of several Eastern European countries and the conflicts happened in former Yugoslavia, JICA recognized the necessity to position the office closer to the field for further intensive cooperation. That was the reason JICA closed Austria Office and established present Balkan Office.

Currently Japanese Government promotes "Western Balkans Cooperation Initiative" that was launched by former Japanese Prime Minister Abe in January 2018, aiming at the support of socio-economic reforms in the Western Balkans toward EU accession as well as the promotion of cooperation among those countries. Taking this Initiative into account, we are carrying out the projects and activities in the following sectors, not only in respective countries as a bilateral cooperation but also among the countries as a coordination beyond the border;

  • Private sector development: Promotion of small-medium enterprises and tourism, Human resources development in agriculture and local industries
  • Environmental management/ conservation: Air pollution control and solid waste management to comply with EU standards, Sustainable forest management and Ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction (Eco-DRR)
  • Improvement of social and economic services: Contribution to those who are socially vulnerable

From the year 2020 onward, COVID-19 pandemic brought serious restrictions to our operations in Western Balkans. We could not go to the site, and had to carry out most of the activities on an online basis. Under this restricted circumstances, we acknowledged the importance of face-to-face activities at the site. On the other hand, international situation over Ukraine also affected Western Balkans, but it is hard to foresee the future situation. Shifting to post-pandemic era, we would like to let people in Western Balkans know that JICA is back to the field, and continue our cooperation that keeps contributing to this region.

UEKI Masahiro
Chief Representative
JICA Balkan Office