[BSF] EU and US strongly support European integration of the Western Balkans

BELGRADE – “In times of crisis, we have to be honest with each other. Otherwise, we risk hypocrisy, we risk doing something we do not want to do coronavirus the crisis has shown us how fragile we are ”, underlined the director of the Belgrade Center for Security Policy Igor Bandović, opening of the 11th Belgrade Security Forum.

Over the next three days, the 11th Belgrade Security Forum will discuss the effects of the pandemic, economic uncertainty, the crisis of democracy and the growth of authoritarianism, xenophobia and mistrust , which, as the organizers warn, “are putting humanity on one of the greatest tests in history.

The forum is jointly organized by the BFPE Foundation for a Responsible Society, the Belgrade Center for Security Policy and the European Movement in Serbia.

EU Ambassador to Serbia Emmanuel Giaufret considered that enlargement is a question of credibility for the EU.

“Enlargement is also important, because it paves the way for the European Union to engage the Western Balkans in the burning issue of our common future,” said Giaufret.

He said Serbia’s accession to the EU had no alternative, which was confirmed at the EU-Western Balkans summit, where leaders reaffirmed their full support for the enlargement process. region. Giaufret also mentioned last week’s European Commission report, where Cocoa says everything that needs to be done on the path to reforms is underlined.

He assessed that many initiatives and processes are underway, such as constitutional changes and inter-party dialogue, but it is important that these reform processes go in the right direction.

Giaufret thanked civil society in Serbia, which continuously works for reconciliation and democratization of Serbia and the region.

He said we live in a world defined by constant narrative battles and the erosion of democratic principles.

“Despite these trends, the values ​​of the EU are still the best to navigate in the future. COVID-19 is the latest stress test for the EU, but in the space of a few months we have broken new ground in solidarity. For the first time, we have created a centralized mechanism for purchasing, storing and distributing medical products and 2 billion vaccines, ”said Gaiufret.

He felt that the EU was becoming the world’s pharmacy, stressing that the EU donated as many vaccines as it distributed to its citizens.

Gabriel Escobar, the US Assistant Under Secretary of State said many look at the Western Balkans through the prism of the 1990s, while Washington does so through the prism of the 21st century.

“One of the biggest challenges and disappointments is that local politicians haven’t changed their way of thinking since the 90s,” Eskobar said.

He said the desire of the United States is for all six countries to become members of the European Union.

“These are European countries, some of which have made tremendous progress, and their EU membership would not pose a danger to existing members of the Union, but a great opportunity,” said Escobar, liaison participant video at the 11th Belgrade Security Conference. Forum, underlined Gabriel Escobar.

According to Escobar, the US administration wants to resolve the currently unresolved problem in the Balkans, adding that the Western Balkans have enormous potential for continued economic growth.

Escobar said Serbia’s economy has grown seven times since 2000, and the economies of Montenegro and Kosovo have experienced double-digit percentage growth under the conditions of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We welcome the economic integration of the countries of the region. People in the Balkans manage to go anywhere, and we want them to succeed in the Balkans as well, ”Escobar concluded.

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