President Attends Brdo-Brijuni Process Summit in Albania

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, May 9, 2019 – Participants in the Brdo-Brijuni Process summit in Tirana on Thursday called on the European Union to take into account also geopolitical reasons in the process of its enlargement to Western Balkan countries, noting that the full integration of Western Balkan countries with the European system of values would be important for Europe’s overall stability.

We call on the European Union to consider its enlargement to the Western Balkans as a matter of geopolitical importance, reads a joint declaration adopted at the summit of the Brdo-Brijuni Process.

Full integration of Western Balkan countries with the European system of values is an important factor of overall European stability, the document says.

The meeting in Tirana was a regular annual summit of the leaders of countries involved in the Brdo-Brijuni initiative that was launched by Croatia and Slovenia in 2013.

This year’s summit was organised by Albanian President Ilir Meta and attending it, as co-chairs of the Brdo-Brijuni Process, were Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and Slovenian President Borut Pahor, as well as the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Kosovo, countries that are at different stages of integration with the EU.

Attending was also the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, and, as a guest of honour, Polish President Andrzej Duda.

Participants in the summit underlined in the closing declaration that candidate countries must meet all EU membership standards and called for a more flexible and faster negotiating process.

They also welcomed the Prespa agreement between Skopje and Athens on the change of Macedonia’s name to North Macedonia, which has created the possibility for North Macedonia to continue with its Euro-Atlantic integration process.

We conclude that such examples show the way towards stronger European and Euro-Atlantic ties within the Western Balkans, says the declaration.

The Tirana summit was held several weeks ahead of a summit of EU leaders scheduled for early June, at which a decision could be made on the possible formal start of accession talks between the EU and Albania and North Macedonia, which have the status of candidate countries.

President Grabar-Kitarović said in her address at the summit that she supported the launching of accession talks with the two countries, but underlined that all EU candidates and potential candidates had to implement the necessary reforms and align their foreign and security policies with the EU’s.

The EU must not leave the countries of Southeast Europe alone and Croatia will continue to be their advocate in the EU, she said.

Grabar-Kitarović also said that during its presidency of the EU in the first half of 2020, Croatia would put the issue of enlargement to Southeast Europe high on its agenda, and that it would organise a summit on that topic.

Addressing a news conference, however, Grabar-Kitarović stressed that she was worried by the lack of progress in the region and Brussels’ lack of interest in the region. She noted in that context that the Brdo-Brijuni Process was important for keeping the EU’s attention on the region.

Discussions in the EU focusing on internal topics have helped create a dangerous vacuum in Southeast Europe, with people in the region beginning to doubt more and more that progress is possible, she said.

She added that the vacuum she was talking about was being filled by third parties, which were not necessarily good for the region.

Slovenian President Borut Pahor warned that after the coming European elections, the issue of enlargement to the Western Balkans would probably not be high on the agenda of the next European Commission. “That is why leaders in the region must do their best to make the topic of enlargement more attractive to the rest of the EU,” Pahor said.

Participants in the Tirana summit also supported the EU’s position that one of the membership criteria should be the settlement of outstanding bilateral issues.

We will actively seek to enable dialogue to continue and trust to become deeper in the region that we represent. All outstanding issues will be solved peacefully, in the spirit of mutual respect and cooperation, reads the closing declaration.

In that context, the summit also discussed relations between Serbia and Kosovo after a recent summit on that topic, organised in Berlin by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, failed.

President Meta said that the atmosphere at the summit was constructive and expressed a wish for the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade to continue.

A decision was made that the next summit should be held in Slovenia.

Pahor said that together with President Grabar-Kitarović he had sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres inviting him to be a special guest at the next summit. If Guterres agrees, the next summit of the Brdo-Brijuni Process will most probably be held in mid-November this year in Brdo pri Kranju, said Pahor.

More news about the Western Balkans can be found in the Politics section.


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