The 'Wine Vision' Fair opened: 'Open Balkan' affirmed as a platform for peace

Otvaranje Sajma vina Vinska vizija Otvoreni Balkan
Source: Kosovo Online

The second Wine, Food, and Tourism Fair, "Wine Vision by Open Balkan", held as a part of the "Open Balkan" Initiative, was officially opened tonight at the Belgrade Fair. All interested individuals will have the opportunity to explore the offerings of wines from Serbia, North Macedonia, and Albania until November 19.


The fair was ceremoniously opened by the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, the Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Dimitar Kovacevski, and the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, who addressed the attendees via a video message. Among the dignitaries were also the President of Montenegro, Jakov Milatovic, the President of the Serbian Parliament, Vladimir Orlic, the Prime Minister of Serbia, Ana Brnabic, ministers in the Serbian government, the Chief of the General Staff of the Serbian Armed Forces, Milan Mojsilovic, the President of the Italian region of Veneto, Luca Zaia, the President of the Chamber of Commerce of Serbia, Marko Cadez, and representatives of the diplomatic corps, including the US Ambassador Christopher Hill.

The President of Serbia emphasized his particular pleasure in opening the "Wine Vision" in Belgrade for the second time, as the number of exhibitors and participating countries had doubled, expressing gratitude for the support of North Macedonia and Albania.

As he noted, there were 250 exhibitors from Serbia, 74 from North Macedonia (the highest proportionate to the population of each participating country), and 21 from Albania. He extended special thanks to the exhibitors from Italy, who had brought the scent of the largest Italian wine fair to Belgrade.

He added that this year there were six times more authorized buyers, which was significant for wineries from Serbia, North Macedonia, and Albania, as well as more than 50 distilleries.

"'Open Balkan' is an affirmed platform for peace. A prosperous and stable Western Balkans is a market of 20 million consumers", Vucic said.

He thanked everyone who invested energy and contributed to making the "Wine Vision" look magnificent and invited everyone to visit the fair.

"Next year, I believe there will be even more exhibitors. Two times more Italian producers, and there will be more Serbian ones as well. Long live 'Open Balkan'", Vucic conveyed.

The Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Dimitar Kovacevski, said that the Open Balkan initiative provided an opportunity to form a unified market in the Western Balkans that would accelerate the path to joining the European market.

Kovacevski emphasized that Open Balkan opened up paths of cooperation for countries in the region.

"Participation in such fairs is very important because it contributes to the creation of a unified market in the Western Balkans and, consequently, joining the European market. Macedonian, Serbian, and Albanian companies are present here today side by side with top wine producers. This is very important for our promotion, bringing us closer together, and opening up new markets", Kovacevski stated.

As he says, since the launch of the "Open Balkan" Initiative, chambers of commerce in the region, states, and citizens have shown functional cooperation, as united countries in the region yield much better results.

"The wine routes of our countries are becoming a global destination. Through the initiative, we have visible results, reflected in the numbers – trade exchange between North Macedonia, Albania, and Serbia has increased by 25%. The trade with Serbia has exceeded 1.1 billion euros, marking the highest trade exchange in the past 18 years between the two countries", Kovacevski stated.

He added that North Macedonia was the second-largest wine exporter in the region and the 29th largest wine exporter globally.

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He expressed the expectation that this fair would remain a tradition for future generations.

"Fairs are an opportunity for the growth and development of companies and the promotion of the quality we bring from our country. The strength is in unity", Kovacevski concluded.

Albanian Prime Minister Rama said that he regretted not being in Belgrade tonight and, welcoming the Montenegrin President, conveyed his delight to see winemakers from three countries together, exchanging knowledge and experience.

He emphasized that the countries in the region must focus on what connected and united them.

He also stated that the Western Balkans region must connect in the future, build good neighborly relations, and become a place where everyone would live together.

Stating that “we will not and must not forget the past and what happened in the region“, Rama stressed that he was convinced that the future must be different from the past and present.

"The question is not whether it will be, but when it will be. I am committed to contributing to that goal. Connecting our countries with the world and not connecting with each other is shortsighted. Let's learn from the mistakes of others and not repeat them. Let's work together and turn the region into a place where our children will live together", Rama said.

Milatovic: The Balkans is the most beautiful when it is open

Montenegrin President Jakov Milatovic thanked President Aleksandar Vucic for the invitation to represent, as he said, a small but sunlit Mediterranean country proud of its wine at the Belgrade Fair.

"The Balkans is the most beautiful when it’s open, and this kind of collaboration is the right thing. Tonight, we are sending a message that the Western Balkans region is cooperating. Wine is here to bring us together, and on behalf of our common future, I wish you a successful fair", Milatovic said, once again expressing gratitude for the invitation to attend.

The President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, Marko Cadez, addressed the exhibitors at the fair, stating that thanks to those present today, they had managed to create one of the largest wine fairs on the European continent in just two years.

"They say tomorrow belongs to those who have a vision today, and that ’today’ was two years ago when our leaders Edi Rama, Aleksandar Vucic, and then Zoran Zaev, and today Dimitar Kovacevski, had the vision to create such a significant event. Today, we can confirm that we are living that tomorrow", Cadez said.

The ceremony of the grand opening began with the performance of Gabi Novak's song "Vino i gitare" (eng: Wine and guitars), performed by the soloist of the Belgrade Opera, Ljubica Vranes.

The "Wine Vision by Open Balkan" Fair is held under the patronage of the governments of Serbia, North Macedonia, and Albania, as a part of the "Open Balkan" Initiative. This year, it has brought together more than 600 exhibitors from numerous wineries, distilleries, and gastronomic companies, from over 28 countries, which is twice the number of exhibitors compared to last year.

Half of the exhibitors are from the member countries of the "Open Balkan", including 260 from Serbia, 74 from North Macedonia, and 21 from Albania.

World wine producers have also joined the fair this year.

Once again, the "Open Balkan Wine Trophy" competition will be the highlight of the regional spectacle, with over 600 wine samples from regional wineries being judged by 30 eminent judges from around the world.

Among them will be holders of the titles "Master of Wine and Master Sommelier", and serving as the president of the judging panel this year again will be Caroline Gilby MW, one of the best connoisseurs of Balkan and Southeast European wines and a key wine authority today. The competition follows the same standards as the most famous global wine competitions.

A true culinary spectacle will take place as a part of the "Food Vision by Open Balkan" program in Hall 11, where the best regional chefs will compete in preparing traditional Balkan dishes.

This culinary spectacle will showcase the traditional flavors and local gastronomy of Serbia, North Macedonia, and Albania.

As a part of the fair, there is also the "Rakija" segment, where more than 50 distilleries will present their products.

The "Wine Vision by Open Balkan" Fair was first organized in September of last year, with the participation of more than 20 countries, 350 wineries, and 30,000 visitors from around the world.