The declaration adopted at the end of the summit of the leaders of the European Union and the Western Balkans said that the escalating war between Russia and Ukraine “endangers peace and security in Europe and the world” and “underlines the importance of a strategic partnership” between the European Union and the Western Balkans region.
“The escalating war Russia with Ukraine threatens peace and security in Europe and the world, and underlines the importance of the strategic partnership between the EU and the Western Balkans region,” reads the declaration adopted at the end of Tuesday’s summit of the leaders of the European Union and the Western Balkans in the capital Albania Tirana.
In the declaration, the EU states confirmed their commitment “to the perspective of the Western Balkans’ membership in the European Union” and called for the acceleration of the accession process “based on credible reforms of the partners”. In particular, the holding of the first intergovernmental conferences with Albania and North Macedonia was welcomed. The EU also called on the countries of the Western Balkans to take action to align their policies with the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, including the introduction of “restrictive measures” against Russia in connection with its aggression in Ukraine.
In terms of energy support, Brussels has offered the countries of the Western Balkans aid in the amount of one billion euros. The EU’s new energy support package, worth €1 billion in grants with the potential to generate €2.5 billion in investment, will help the Western Balkans mitigate the effects of the energy crisis and accelerate the region’s energy transition.
Declaration of telecommunications operators
The summit also adopted a joint declaration by telecommunications operators from the European Union and the Western Balkans to reduce and then abolish roaming charges in the region. In addition, Brussels appreciated the efforts of the Western Balkan countries in the fight against illegal migration, terrorism and organized crime, promising further financial assistance.
The meeting in Tirana was attended, among others, by the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, who had previously refused to participate in it due to tense relations between Serbia and Kosovo.
“We continue to fully support the efforts of the EU High Representative and the EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue and other regional issues in the Western Balkans, and look forward to concrete progress by both sides towards a comprehensive, legally binding agreement on the normalization of relations between them.” message.
Strong support for the accession of the Western Balkans was expressed, among others, by the heads of government of Hungary and Slovenia, who are among the main supporters of the integration of the countries of the region with the European Union. Viktor Orbán stressed the role of Serbia in the context of closing the routes for illegal immigrants and gas supplies to Hungary.
Borrell: The Western Balkans have entered the European path
“Since Russian aggression began in Ukraine, the Western Balkans, which were forgotten by Europe, have become recognizable as a place where geopolitical conflict is spreading,” Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob said. He also added that the integration of the region is important for the stability of Europe in all aspects.
– The Western Balkans have decided to follow the European path. It is a two-way street and we also expect the region to implement key reforms and certainly show willingness to embrace European ambition and spirit. Many of them do. But we also see fluctuations, said the head of EU diplomacy Josep Borrellquoted by Reuters.
It was the first summit of EU and Western Balkan leaders held in the region. The previous one took place in Brdo pri Kranju, Slovenia, during the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU in October 2021.
Main photo source: MALTON DIBRA/PAP/EPA