Donnerstag, 22.02.2024 20:11 Uhr

"Friends of the Western Balkans" Group in Rome

Verantwortlicher Autor: Carlo Marino Rome, 05.02.2024, 17:06 Uhr
Nachricht/Bericht: +++ Politik +++ Bericht 3205x gelesen

Rome [ENA] A ministerial meeting was held on Monday 5 February 2024 at Villa Madama in Rome, attended by the Foreign Ministers of the member countries of the "Friends of the Western Balkans" Group and by those of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, with the aim of strengthening coordination on the objectives and priorities to be pursued in 2024 regarding the European integration of

the Balkan region. Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg presented in 2023, during the Europa-Forum Wachau in Lower Austria, the “Friends of the Western Balkans”, a group of seven EU member states keen to accelerate the EU accession of the of the Western Balkans. Austria, Greece, Italy, Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic have since been known as the “Friends of the Western Balkans” and are determined to take resolute action with the aim of maintain the European Union's attention on the region, promoting an acceleration of the integration process. With all due attention to Ukraine, the European Union must not lose sight of the states of south-eastern Europe. There is a need for greater integration of the

Western Balkans into the EU and a need for gradual and accelerated integration before full EU membership. “The Western Balkans region is a priority for Italy. We share deep historical ties and we want to further relaunch cooperation in all sectors, starting with the economic one" - Tajani declared in 2023 during the 78th United Nations General Assembly in New York - "our approach to the challenges of the region is open, inclusive and based on dialogue". On Tajani's proposal, it was agreed to organize a meeting in the same ministerial format on a regular basis, twice a year, to have a constant discussion on issues of common interest.

During the EU-Western Balkans ministerial meeting held on 13 November 2023 in Brussels, under the leadership of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, an unofficial document was presented on the discussion table - non-paper in jargon – brought by seven member states more open to the immediate integration of partners regarding common foreign policy and security. There are common security challenges, against the backdrop of persistent threats to global and regional security and, following the outbreak of war in Ukraine, and the intensification of discussions to finalize the EU enlargement process, it has become increasingly urgent for Brussels to count on reliable partners in foreign, security and

defense policy, including with regard to alignment with EU decisions. It should be remembered that Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have not yet adopted international sanctions against Russia. The objective of the "Friends of the Western Balkans" is essentially to provide "strong political, technical and financial support" to all candidates - with accession negotiations already underway (Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia) or not (Bosnia and Herzegovina -Kosovo), to carry out major reforms and fight disinformation, migration, hybrid threats and “malign” influence from third parties. It should be noted that Serbia and Kosovo must engage constructively in dialogue on the normalization of relations. For Italy, socio-economic

development, stabilization and European integration of the Balkan region are a vital interest, indispensable to avoid instability and empty spaces that can undermine European collective security, even more so at a time like the current one, in which it is already threatened. Before Ukraine there are other countries that have priority to join the EU and today Tajani reiterated Italy's position on the Balkan region.

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