The Balkan Conference organized in Berlin under the care of the German
chancellor, Angela Merkel, is bringing a new and important chapter in
the relations between the EU and our region.
Messages were encouraging in the meeting between Merkel, the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, and seven Prime Ministers of Western Balkans, which was transmitted in a joint press release.
Chancellor Merkel declared that the European Union supports without reserve the accession of Balkan countries. She promised that this conference will be held each year for the next four years, in order to accelerate the integration process.
“President Barroso and I support the Balkan countries in the EU accession path. We are committed to have no more wars in Balkan, but only peace. Since there have been many developments in these countries, there might be an EU membership. For this reason, this conference will be held every year during the next four years”, Merkel said.
The German chancellor promised that there will be a constant process of work for resolving the political problems of the region, especially those in Serbia, Kosovo and Bosnia.
“We had the idea to create a new network in which the entire region will cooperate. We want the integration process to go faster and have these countries integrated. Slovenia and Croatia became members, other countries received the status and have progressed. But everything is up to them. Mr.Barroso says that the Commission is ready to help these countries”, Merkel declared.
Prime Minister Rama, the only one of the seven Prime Ministers who was present in this declaration, valued the importance of this conference for Western Balkan, saying that it guarantees peace in the region. By thanking Chancellor Merkel, the Prime Minister of Albania mentioned the topics that were discussed in the meeting.
“We agreed today to have this meeting every year, so that the relations between Balkan and the EU can get closer”, Rama declared, saying that he is aware about the difficulties of the integration process.
“We are aware that there are doubts, disappointments and displeasure within the EU. However, we see the EU not only as success, but also as development. All Balkan countries are getting together in the path of reforms today, so that one day we can be together with the European family. It will be a long and difficult road, but geopolitically and geo-economically, we are clear about where our future should be”, Rama added.
President Barroso was on the same line with Chancellor Merkel, who appealed the countries of the region to accelerate reforms in all sectors. Underlining that Balkan is closer to the EU today, the Chief of the European Commission valued that regional cooperation will create stability.
Rama-Merkel: Spying news not influencing relations
When asked by Top Channel if this conference will influence the relations and if the news about German spying on Albania will change anything, the Albanian Prime Minister declared:
“The leadership of Chancellor Merkel and the good will of Germany that was expressed today through this initiative is the best guarantee that today’s conference is the start of a political and economic restructuring of Balkan. Today, the Chancellor of Austria announced that the conference of the next year will be held in their country. This is another good indicator.
As for the spying news, I want to underline that there is no room for speculation. We are a NATO member and we share with Germany our joint efforts against terrorism and the organized crime, that’s why there is no prejudice regarding security”, Rama declared.
Chancellor Merkel declared: “I support what Prime Minister Rama told about the spying case. As for the rest, I can say that one day we might prove that we can go forward. We must support the people. We have supported the agreements between Serbia and Kosovo, the resolution of the name case with Macedonia and the problems with Bosnia Herzegovna. We have also made the first plans for the future in this meeting”.
The Albanian Prime Minister declared that on October 22nd he will visit Belgrade, with an invitation of his Serbian counterpart, Alexander Vucic.
The Balkan Conference started with the meeting of the Economic Development Ministers and representatives of the EU, to see the possibility of advancing the infrastructure projects, the most important of which is the Blue Corridor, which starts in Croatia and ends in Greece, but also other projects in energy and railway transportation.
The German Chief of Diplomacy, Mr.Steinmeier, declared that this conference underlines that “Germany is engaging with dedication to the entire region, and confirms our stance for the European perspective of all Western Balkan”.
Minister Steinmeier said that part of the discussion will be reviewing the possibilities how countries continue the necessary reforms.
“Based on the current international crisis in our neighbor countries, I want to get consulted with my colleagues about how we can show with progressivity the joint European values and interests in an unified foreign policy”, the Foreign Minister declared.
In this meeting was present the Foreign Minister of Austria, Sebastian Kurz, and the Commissioner for Enlargement, Stefan Fule. The Balkan Conference starts a 4-year project, since this conference will continue during the next years in Austria and France.
It remains to be seen if the matters agreed upon in this conference will turn reality or if Balkan will be forgotten once again.