ZAGREB, July 10, 2018 – The heads of state or government of countries involved in the Berlin Process, including Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, started the second day of the EU-Western Balkans summit in London on Tuesday with a working lunch hosted by British Prime Minister Theresa May.
The summit gathers the heads of six Western Balkan countries, representatives of European institutions and EU member states participating in the Berlin Process that was initiated by German chancellor Angela Merkel in 2014 in an effort to encourage countries in the region to implement European integration reforms.
In addition to Plenković and May, other participants include Angela Merkel, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
The Western Balkan countries have been working very hard on reforms, on reconciliation, good neighbourly relations, and bilateral agreements have been reached such as the agreement relating to the name dispute between Athens and Skopje.
On the first day of the summit on Monday, a series of meetings of foreign and interior ministers were held, focusing on topics relating to the future of Southeast Europe. Special emphasis was placed on the issue of security and migration and on youth. Representatives of civil society organisations and start-ups were also given a chance to talk with ministers and present their ideas and views on the future development of the region.
Britain as the host of the summit announced that despite Brexit it would double its contributions to Western Balkan countries to 80 million pounds and would increase the number of its security personnel in the region in an effort to strengthen the fight against organised crime. History is showing us that stability and security of the Western Balkans means a more stable and more secure Europe, May said.
Britain’s Minister of State for Europe and the Americas Alan Duncan, in the wake of Monday’s sudden resignation of Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Boris Johnson, has taken over the chairmanship of the summit and announced that Great Britain has invested 10 million pounds in digital education of boys and girls in more than 4,500 schools in all six Western Balkan countries. We are certain that the job we are doing here will result in lasting and positive changes in the region, Duncan said.
The summit is being attended by six Balkan countries aspiring for EU membership – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia; seven EU member states included in the Berlin Process – Austria, Croatia, France, Germany, Italy, Slovenia and Poland; Great Britain as the host; and EU members Bulgaria and Greece.
This is the fifth annual summit after the first one was held in Berlin followed by those in Vienna, Paris and Trieste. The next summit will be held in Poland.
On the second day of the summit, in addition to plenary sessions, a series of bilateral meetings will be held, and Prime Minister Plenković is expected to meet with his Macedonian counterpart Zoran Zaev. The agreement between Macedonia and Greece, following years of dispute concerning Macedonia’s name, has been presented as a symbol of the summit and a sign of encouragement.
Duncan described the agreement as an act of courageous leadership.
After the formal talks are over, the participants are scheduled to attend a reception given by Prince Charles.
Plenković is also expected to meet with representatives of the Croatian community in the UK in the Croatian Embassy.