SKOPJE, July 29 (Xinhua) -- The leaders of North Macedonia, Albania and Serbia signed here on Thursday one agreement and two memoranda of understanding on the sidelines of the Skopje Economic Forum aiming to boost regional cooperation in the Western Balkans.
The two-day forum that opened here on Wednesday brought together the Prime Minister of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev, Albania's Prime Minister Edi Rama and Serbia's President Alexander Vucic.
At the conclusion of the event on Thursday, the three leaders signed an agreement on cooperation on disaster protection and rescue in the Western Balkans, and two memoranda of understanding, one on cooperation on free access to the three labor markets and another on cooperation on facilitating trade in the region.
The three leaders, also known as initiators of a "mini-Schengen zone" modeled after the Schengen Agreement that allows passport-free movement between the 26 European Union (EU) member states, decided to call the initiative "Open Balkan."
"Our countries are walking on the same path, we share the same vision and European values. The Open Balkan initiative is what the region needs," Zaev said.
Rama said that the three countries had signed an agreement to "stand together in all cases."
He said that the door was open to other countries in the region, emphasizing that no country should be held back by the skepticism or hesitation of another.
Vucic said that the three countries must stand united in order to increase the level of their economic cooperation.
"Together we can make things incomparably better than alone," Vucic said.
Vucic said that from Jan. 1, 2023, the borders will be open between Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia, enabling people to "travel from Belgrade to Tirana and Durres with no interruptions whatsoever."
The Skopje Economic Forum on Regional Cooperation was also attended by around 300 companies from the three countries. Enditem