European Western Balkans
European Integration

BiH Council of Ministers Chairman Zvizdić at Western Balkans Leaders' Summit

PARIS – Chairman of the Council of Ministers of BIH Dr Denis Zvizdić took part at the Western Balkans Leaders’ Summit, which took place in Elysee Palace in Paris. The host of the Summit was French President Francis Hollande, and the event was attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

The plenary session discussed the European prospects of the region and cooperation in the area of migrations, security and fight against terrorism. The introductory remarks were held by French President Francois Hollande, on which occasion he said that the Western Balkans has a clear European perspective, and encouraged the states to continue with the EU integrations.

In his address to the Summit, Chairman Zvizdić congratulated to President Holland for an excellent organisation of the Summit and for hospitality. He stressed that some twenty days ago, BREXIT took place, which opened numerous dilemmas and issues. He said that at present no one can foresee with certainty possible consequences of the move, but that he is convinced that at the moment of announcement of the results, many citizens of the European Union, as well as in the Western Balkans were saddened by the news.

„Right in that context, we, Prime Ministers of the Western Balkans, see today’s Summit, especially the messaged stemming out form it, as a strong impulse to our European perspective, further economic and democratic development and regional connecting, which all lead to a higher level of cooperation, mutual understanding and confidence. Because the membership in the European Union, for us in BIH, as well as for the whole of the European continent, from which I come, represents not only a strategic, but also political and economic aim. The membership in the EU we see as a synonym for stability and peace, strengthening of rule of law and genuine democratisation of our society, as the processes representing condicio sine qua non for our development“, Chairman Zvizdić said in his address.

He said that the European Union is the most important foreign policy priority and that BIH, despite its problems, is fully dedicated to continue persistently and diligently finding solutions and further increasing dynamics of the European integrations process of BIH.

“Therefore, today we are going to sing an Agreement Establishing Regional Youth Cooperation Office, by the model of French-German Youth Office, established over a half century ago”, Chairman Zvizdić said, emphasising that such office merely gives an example and provides a good paradigm of all challenges Europe experienced over that period of time, but also follow-up benefits of these visionary decisions. He said that both wisdom and courage of its founders, who were equipped by sufficient knowledge and courage to overcome prejudices and exchange the policy of confrontation by policy of cooperation and linking is the foundations of then, as well as nowadays European Union.

“Rightly such policy of future, that represents perspective of the European Union membership for the Western Balkan countries, is and will continue to be the strongest incentive for reforms implementation, including efforts towards reconciliation and confidence rebuilding in the region. It contributed undoubtedly for all outstanding issues in the region to be solved by way of dialogue. Successfulness of the dialogue among countries of the region across different issues, starting from border-related to economic issues, proved that the European Union enlargement policy still represents a strong driving and integration factor for the Western Balkans”, Chairman Zvizdić said.

He express his confidence that the European Union is not whole without the Western Balkan countries being included, vowing his hope that the enlargement policy towards the Western Balkan countries will remain in the focus of EU policy, which is important for the prosperous future of our region.

Chairman Zvizdić informed the Summit of realisation of numerous reforms, which yielded productive economic and political transformation, mentioning the improvement of business environment, GPD growth, export increase, decrease of foreign trade deficit, increased number of tourists and generation of more than 20 thousand jobs, predominantly in real sector. He said that there is a lot of work to be done yet, adding that BIH is ready for reform implementation, which would not be possible to realise in desired volume and dynamics, needed to step-up both regional and European integrations, without support and new investment.

Turing to recent terrorist attacks and actions by violent extremist movements throughout the continent, Chairman Zvizdić said that at this moment, more than ever, civilisation values, messages of peace, tolerance and understanding, on which the European idea was founded, need to be promoted.

“We in BIH believe that terrorism might be only defeated though a coordinated action and preventive and all-comprehensive approach, which includes proactive participation of all countries. Bosnia and Herzegovina takes an active part in fight against terrorism, including fight against radicalisation and violent extremism. We want to take even more active role in  development process of regional security system that would make us capable to respond, together with other countries, to topical security challenges, and thus contribute to the European security in a whole”, Chairman Zvizdić said.

He pointed at a necessity of tackling with security issues though both horizontal and integrated approach, by inclusion of all security pillars, such as fight against terrorism, combating serious and organised crime, and insuring border security.

Chairman Zvizdić emphasised a fact that BIH was the first country of the region to adopt a law banning participation at foreign war fields and multi-year strategy of fight against organised crime and prevention and fight against terrorism.

Speaking of the migrant crisis, Chairman Zvizdić said, among other things, the following: “Although BIH is not currently exposed to a major migrant inflow, we took all-comprehensive measures for case of massive arrival of refugees. These measures include both security and humanitarian components. We believe that solving the issue of illegal migration is possible only though a global-level coordination, which presumes dealing with causes of all mass movements of migrants and refugees.”

At the end of his delivery, Chairman Zvizdić thanked for the organisation of the Summit and for strong commitment of the European Union to keep the focus to the Western Balkans.

Chairman Zvizdić, together with  Prime Ministers of Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia, signed the Agreement Establishing Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO).

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