The fifth regional summit on energy, investments and economic development kicks off on Thursday in the coastal Croatian town of Dubrovnik with the participation of leaders from the region and Europe.
The two-day summit, hosted by Croatia, will cover the EU and NATO integration of the Western Balkan countries, co-operation in the energy sector and new economic projects.
The event will be attended by French Prime Minister Francois Fillon, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov, as well as the prime ministers of Montenegro, Slovenia, Kosovo and Albania, Milo Djukanovic, Borut Pahor, Hashim Thaci and Sali Berisha, respectively, .
Bosnian Foreign Minister Sven Alkalaj and his Macedonian counterpart Antonio Milososki are also expected, as well as representatives of NATO and the EU and other international organisations.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has canceled his participation at the gathering due to internal political reasons.
Serbia will not participate in the summit. Kosovo PM Hashim Tachi will take part in the event and Belgrade, which strongly opposes the independence of Kosovo, regularly refuses to participate in events where Kosovo representatives are present and not participating under the auspices of the UN.
According to the web portal Seetimes.com, Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic refused to take part in the summit after Croatian authorities broke a scheduling agreement. Jeremic was reportedly set to speak during the first day of the summit, but was rescheduled to speak on the second day, together with members of the Kosovo delegation, the web portal reports.