by Xinhua writers Chen Xu, Stoczek Magdalena
WARSAW, July 6 (Xinhua) -- The seventh leaders' meeting of China and Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC) is set to be held in Bulgarian capital Sofia with the participation of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
Experts and scholars from think tanks in Central and Eastern Europe believe that the 16+1 bloc comprising China and the CEEC has produced solid results since its launch in 2012, effectively promoting the economic development of the region.
Experts also expect great potential in the future development of the 16+1.
The 16+1 cooperation is a voluntary cross-regional framework. In an interview with Xinhua, Neven Cveticanin, a senior research associate at the Institute of Social Sciences of Serbia, said that the 16+1 group has helped Serbia develop its economy and improve living standards.
According to Cveticanin, Chinese enterprises have invested in the construction of bridges and highways in the country under the framework.
The increasing exchanges between people from both countries have also been a boon for tourism, he said.
Nako Stefanov, a professor at Sofia University in Bulgaria and former head of the East Asian Studies Department, believes that since the 16+1 was launched, contact between China and the CEEC has only grown.
The platform plays an important role in boosting economic development in this part of Europe, Stefanov said.
According to Zivadin Jovanovic, founder and president of two think tanks -- the Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals and the Silk Road Connectivity Research Center, the 16+1 has demonstrated in practice how connectivity works between Europe and China.
This format of cooperation has greatly contributed to the economic, cultural, and social integration of the Eurasian continent. It has affirmed itself as a means of integration and interconnection between Europe and Asia, especially between the European Union and China, Jovanovic said.
The 16+1 is a significant novelty in the relations between China and Europe and should be advanced on the basis of mutual economic interests, Jovanovic said.
Speaking of future development of the 16+1, Peter Balaz, a professor of international trade at the University of Economics in Bratislava, Slovakia said the platform has great potential for further development.
Since Slovakia is also a member of the Visegrad Group -- a cultural and political alliance of four Central European states, the 16+1 can help promote ties between the group and China in areas such as commercial investments, tourism and cultural exchanges.
Both sides should draw on each other's advantages to offset weaknesses, Balaz added.
(Xinhua reporters Wang Huijuan, Nemanja Cabric in Belgrade, Wang Xinran in Sofia, Qu Xi in Bratislava, Guo Mingfang in Vilnius also contributed to the report.)