Slovenia Calls for Clarity on EU Enlargement to W Balkans

By , 28 Sep 2021, 10:14 AM Politics
The Western Balkans states waiting to enter the EU The Western Balkans states waiting to enter the EU

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STA, 27 September 2021 - Parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič hosted a meeting of parliamentary speakers from the Western Balkans on Monday, saying that the EU must give the region a clear signal on when it could expect EU accession. The speakers of the Serbian and Montenegrin parliaments also called for more clarity regarding the EU enlargement.

Speaking to the press after the high-level meeting in Brdo pri Kranju, Zorčič said that the aim was to keep the process of the EU enlargement to the Western Balkans on the table and to facilitate it.

He noted that the "process has not only been stalled, but it has even turned into the wrong direction".

According to Zorčič, the parliaments of certain Western Balkan countries do not see the EU and getting closer to the bloc as their future, and some countries have given up on waiting for signals to come from the EU.

On the other hand, they continue making the necessary reforms and thus it is of "utmost importance that the EU gives the countries a clear signal on when they can accept the accession," he added.

Zorčič feels that the signals coming from the EU do not encourage trust in the enlargement process in the countries in the regions.

"It is important that Slovenia, as an EU member state that has historical connections with the Western Balkan countries and knows about this region, maintains the debate and even upgrades it in this direction," he added.

President of the National Assembly of Serbia Ivica Dačić agreed, saying that the EU needed to say when it would accept the Western Balkan countries, noting that the region deserved an honest attitude.

President of the Parliament of Montenegro Aleksa Bečić noted that there was no alternative to the EU enlargement to the Western Balkans, and he demanded an answer from the EU as to whether this process is still alive.

The EU could show this in the case of Montenegro, he said, adding that the EU membership of the country would serve as a motivating factor for other countries in the region.

The meeting was also attended by the parliamentary speakers from Bosnia-Herzegovina and North Macedonia and the vice-president of the Albanian Parliament. The speakers of the Parliament of Kosovo has excused himself, Zorčič said.

The speakers adopted a joint statement with which they will acquaint the speakers of parliaments of the EU member states as they meet next year for a conference in Slovenia, Zorčič said.

The participants were addressed beforehand by President Borut Pahor, Foreign Minister Anže Logar and Foreign Policy Committee chair Monika Gregorčič.

Pahor said that Slovenia had always been an advocate of the EU enlargement to the Western Balkans, and called for multilateral cooperation between the countries in the region to be strengthened, the president's office said.

In the afternoon, the meeting will continue with a talk with young people from Slovenia and the Western Balkans as part of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

The EU enlargement to the Western Balkans is one of the priorities of the Slovenian presidency of the EU Council, as part of which an EU-Western Balkans summit will be hosted next week.

Pahor expressed the hope that the summit would bring en encouragement for the enlargement process, while noting the mutual responsibility of both parties.

"The EU must keep the enlargement to the Western Balkans as a priority, and the Western Balkan countries must implement the necessary reforms in order to develop," the president was quoted by his office.

Logar expressed the expectation that Western Balkan countries will continue with reforms and said the EU could not be a successful global player without successfully integrating the Western Balkans and a stabilisation of its eastern and southern neighbourhood, according to the Foreign Ministry.

The meeting ended with a joint declaration which underlines the need to once again put the enlargement process high on the EU agenda and states that the EU must remain the first choice of strategic partner by the Western Balkans.

The speakers also called for greater solidarity in addressing common challenges and for an improvement of the situation of youths in the region.

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