Slovenia calls for clarity on EU enlargement to the western Balkans

STA, September 27, 2021 – Speaker of Parliament Igor Zorčič on Monday hosted a meeting of speakers of Western Balkan parliaments, saying the EU must give the region a clear signal on when it can expect to join the EU. Speakers of the Serbian and Montenegrin parliaments also called for more clarity on EU enlargement.

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

He noted that the “process has not only been blocked, it has even turned in the wrong direction.”

According to Zorčič, the parliaments of some countries in the Western Balkans do not see the EU and rapprochement with the bloc as their future, and some countries have given up waiting for signals from the EU.

On the other hand, they continue to make the necessary reforms and therefore it is of the utmost importance that the EU gives countries a clear signal on when they can accept membership, he added.

Zorčič believes that the signals coming from the EU do not encourage confidence in the enlargement process in the countries of the regions.

“It is important that Slovenia, as an EU member state with historical links with the countries of the Western Balkans and knowing this region, maintains the debate and even improves it in this direction,” he said. he adds.

Serbian National Assembly Speaker Ivica Dačić said the EU should say when it will accept the Western Balkan countries, noting that the region deserves an honest attitude.

The Speaker of the Parliament of Montenegro, Aleksa Bečić, noted that there was no alternative to the EU’s enlargement to the Western Balkans, and he asked for a response from the EU as to whether this process is still in progress.

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

The meeting was also attended by parliamentary speakers from Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia and the Deputy Speaker of the Albanian Parliament. The Presidents of the Parliament of Kosovo apologized, said Zorčič.

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

President Borut Pahor, Foreign Minister Anže Logar and President of the Foreign Policy Commission Monika Gregorčič addressed the participants.

Pahor said Slovenia has always been a supporter of EU enlargement to the Western Balkans, and called for strengthening multilateral cooperation between countries in the region, the president’s office said.

In the afternoon, the meeting will continue with an interview with young people from Slovenia and the Western Balkans within the framework of the Conference on the Future of Europe.

The enlargement of the EU to the Western Balkans is one of the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU, in which an EU-Western Balkans summit will be organized next week.

Pahor expressed hope that the summit would provide encouragement to the enlargement process, while noting the mutual responsibility of the two sides.

“The EU must make enlargement to the Western Balkans a priority, and the countries of the Western Balkans must implement the reforms necessary to develop,” said the president of his office.

Logar expressed hope that the countries of the Western Balkans will continue their reforms and said the EU could not be a successful global player without successfully integrating the Western Balkans and a stabilization of its eastern and southern neighbors, according to the ministry. Foreign Affairs.

The meeting ended with a joint declaration which underlines the need to put the enlargement process back at the top of the EU agenda and declares that the EU must remain the first choice of strategic partner of the Western Balkans.

The speakers also called for greater solidarity in the face of common challenges and for an improvement in the situation of young people in the region.

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