ZAGREB, April 16, 2018 – The EU-Western Balkans summit, which will be held next month, will not give as strong a message as the one held in Thessaloniki in 2003, but it will clearly emphasise European Union membership prospects for Southeast European countries, Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Marija Pejčinović Burić said in Luxembourg on Monday.
“I think we have agreed that it is very important to confirm the European prospects for the Southeast European countries. There are differences between member states on how to achieve this and at what speed, which is normal and has happened before. It is too early to speak about this because the text of the declaration has not been agreed yet, but it certainly will not be as strong as the one from the Thessaloniki summit 15 years ago. But it will be inspiring enough and will show the great will and support of the EU for enlargement, of course, based on common interests and criteria. In other words, it will not be an enlargement summit like the one in 2003 but will certainly clearly underline the European prospects,” Pejčinović Burić said.
EU foreign ministers discussed the Western Balkans during a working lunch in Luxembourg as part of preparations for the EU-Western Balkans summit in Sofia on May 17.
According to diplomatic sources, several member states, including Germany, France and the Netherlands, do not want the Sofia summit to be understood as an enlargement summit and are even against using the word enlargement. They want the summit to focus on connecting the countries within the region and on connecting the region with the EU on specific issues.
Asked if the EU demanded from Bosnia and Herzegovina to change its electoral legislation to comply with a Constitutional Court ruling, Pejčinović Burić said that the matter had not been discussed, but added that it was important for those changes to be adopted by institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina and not those outside the country.
“Electoral legislation was not discussed much. The only people who spoke about it was High Representative Federica Mogherini and I. That was not the topic, but we agreed that this law should be adopted by institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is their law, and we can only guide them and help them. People in Bosnia and Herzegovina must agree on this, and it is important to us that the Constitutional Court ruling is accepted, that the Croats as a constituent people are legitimately represented at all levels at which elections are held, in other words both at the level of the Presidency and at the level of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” the Croatian foreign minister said.