ZAGREB, February 17, 2018 – As a result of the bad experience from the Slovenian-Croatian border conflict, the Western Balkans have to solve their border disputes before they can become members of the European Union, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Saturday addressing the Munich Security Conference.
The EU recently presented a new strategy for the Western Balkans in which refers to the arbitration model for resolving border disputes which cannot be resolved through bilateral negotiations.
Juncker says that it is difficult for him to watch the Slovenian-Croatian border dispute which he believes could have been resolved prior to the two countries’ admission to the Union. Instead the row was referred to an international arbitral tribunal, but the parties cannot agree on how to handle this arbitraiton award, he said.
Juncker underscored that disputes in the Balkans have to be resolved before any country in the region joins the EU. The Western Balkans countries are not yet able to join the European Union at the present time. But it is important that they keep their European perspective, he said.
This is because of the experience of the early 1990s and this is a “highly complicated, highly sensitive region. And by exporting this prospect of accession, we must export stability, instead of importing instability in the EU,” Juncker said. “The condition is that the Western Balkan countries have settled their border disputes before they can become members of the European Union,” he underscored.
Juncker announced his tour of the Western Balkans at the end of February and the beginning of March to visit regional aspirants that are frustrated by the absence of a clear time framework for additional enlargement.