From left to right, Lilyana Pavlova, Minister for the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2018, Mevlut Cavusoglu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Hashim Thaci, President of the Republic of Kosovo, Borut Pahor, President of Slovenia, Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of World Economic Forum, Andrej Plenkovic, Prime Minister of Croatia, Ana Brnabic, Prime Minister of Serbia, Edi Rama, Prime Minister of Albania, Borge Brende, executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, Zoran Pazin, Deputy Prime Minister of Montenegro, Miroslav Lajcak, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic and the President of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly during the press conference after Strategic Dialogue on the Western Balkans, Tuesday, October 2, 2018 at the World Economic Forum headquarters in Cologny near Geneva, Switzerland. (Cyril Zingaro/Keystone via AP)

World Economic Forum hosts Balkan leaders in Switzerland

October 02, 2018 - 9:43 am

GENEVA (AP) — The World Economic Forum's president said Tuesday that the organization's move to bring together leaders from four Western Balkan countries and regional powers aims to fight "complacency" in a region facing lingering tensions on a route used by migrants into Europe.

Borge Brende, a former Norwegian foreign minister, said that lessons from history show that events in the west Balkans tend to have a "huge influence" on the rest of Europe, while pointing to economic opportunities in the region.

"What happens in the Balkans will have huge implications for Europe in the future — and this is too frequently neglected," Brende said in an interview. "What we have learned during the last years is that complacency is not a good idea."

He spoke after the WEF hosted the leaders from Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia, as well as key officials from regional players like Croatia, Germany and Turkey.

The leaders announced plans to create a regional center on emerging technologies in the "Fourth Industrial Revolution," cooperate with a WEF cybersecurity center and hold a regional summit next year.

The Geneva-based think tank is best known for the annual Davos gathering in the Swiss Alps.