UNUnited Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Press Releases 1999


Geneva, 29 April 1999



At a Conference in Athens held yesterday (on 28 April 1999), Ministers of Transport of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Republic of Moldova, Romania, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Turkey have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to facilitate and liberalize international road transport of goods in Southeast Europe. Slovenia will sign the MoU at a later stage.

The Ministerial Conference was hosted by the Government of Greece in the framework of the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative (SECI) which was launched in December 1996 as a support mechanism for the Dayton Peace Agreement. The main objective of SECI is to encourage cooperation among its participating States and to facilitate their integration into European structures. This initiative is being supported by Austria, Italy, the Russian Federation, Switzerland and the United States of America.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been prepared by the SECI Project Group on Border Crossing Facilitation, chaired by Mr. Y. Maniatis, Secretary-General at the Greek Ministry of Transport and Communications with substantive assistance by the Transport Division of the UN/ECE secretariat.

The MoU addresses the most urgent problems and deficiencies of international road transport and trade in Southeast Europe, which are not only due to a lack of adequate infrastructure, but also due to complex border crossing procedures and other institutional, regulatory and economic barriers.

Detailed information on the content of the MoU is contained in UN/ECE Press Release ECE/TRANS/99/3 dated 23 April 1999.

At the signing ceremony held at the closing of the Conference, the Chairman of the Conference, Greek Minister of Transport Mr. A. Mantelis stressed that this MoU was intended as the starting point and a framework for the liberalization and harmonization of international road transport in the SECI participating States in line with the rules prevailing in most other European countries and, in particular, in the European Community. Signing of the MoU was however only the first step. The provisions of the MoU would now need to be implemented through bilateral negotiations with the assistance of a newly established Regional Road Transport Committee. Greece was prepared to host the first session of this Committee in 1999.

The Executive Secretary of the UN/ECE, Mr. Y. Berthelot, stressed that, in spite of the complex and often sensitive topics addressed in the MoU, the preparatory process that has led to its finalization was characterized by a constructive, cooperative and friendly atmosphere. This demonstrated the interest and the capability of the SECI participating States to find regional solutions to common problems in fields that hinder economic and social development. He also expressed the hope that this MoU would send a positive signal and an incentive to all participating States in Southeast Europe to act in the same manner in other regional activities within or outside of the SECI initiative.

Ambassador R. Shifter of the United States, the initiator of SECI, pointed out that signing of the MoU by nine States of Southeast Europe at the present time was a sign of hope and underlined that the pragmatic approach taken by the SECI initiative had led to tangible results within a relatively short time. Other SECI Project Groups, for example on cross border crime prevention chaired by Romania, were also expected to arrive at concrete results in the next few weeks.

Additional information may also be obtained directly from:

Mr. Martin Magold
Chief, Border Crossing Facilitation Section
UN/ECE Transport Division


Mr. Will Keenan
Regional Adviser
UN/ECE Trade Division
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE)
Palais des Nations
CH - 1211 Geneva 10

Tel: (+41 22) 917 24 53 (Mr. Magold)
Tel: (+41 22) 917 27 93 (Mr. Keenan)
Fax: (+41 22) 917 00 39
E-mail: [email protected]
[email protected]