Bogovic MEP calls on the EP to expedite the EU enlargement process to Western Balkans and fortify the IPA for faster development of the region

Franc Bogovič

STRASBOURG, 19.05.2015. – MEP Franc Bogovič stated yesterday that recent events in Macedonia, as well as in Kosovo, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, are a warning sign of peril and fragility in the Western Balkans region.

 Video – MEP Bogovič on Macedonia, Serbia in the Western Balkans at the EP Plenary sitting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvh8rmPDX2g 

The Western Balkans is Europe’s grey area. It consists of six countries with about 20 million citizens, which amounts to about 4 % of the current EU population. Bogovič feels this number should not be a problem for Europe in the event of enlargement. “Recent events in Macedonia, as well as in Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina, testify to the fact these countries are far from stability that would enable them to develop,” Bogovič says. He wonders whether Europe is ready for a new enlargement, even if it is for just a fifth of the population in comparison to over a hundred million that joined the EU in the past decade. “The EU is showing signs of fatigue following the enlargements of 2004 and 2007, so we need internal consolidation,” he emphasises, adding the economic crisis was a contributing factor.

In his opinion, delaying enlargement or rather maintaining status quo in the process of integration in the Western Balkans would exacerbate the current situation and political stability in these countries. At the moment, the consequences are most obvious in Macedonia, but delaying the enlargement could intensify the development gap in other Western Balkans countries.

Bogovič regrets that public attention is focused on the Balkans with concern again, after the horrors of war in some of the ex-Yugoslavian countries twenty years ago: “That is why we need to ponder the enlargement process of the EU to Western Balkans countries, and propose a straightforward answer as to the European perspective in this area. Political wrangling in the multinational Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia, multitude of refugees from Kosovo and the name dispute between Macedonia and Greece are problems that the EU must be addressed as priorities. I am certain that the EU enlargement process needs to be expedited and fortify the presence of European values in the Balkans. To achieve that, first the resolution of the name dispute between Macedonia and Greece must be resolved and the IPA must be fortified to ensure faster development of the region. This will give the young hope for a better future in their home countries. Otherwise, the tragic events will continue to worsen, which can influence the stability of the member states.”