SARAJEVO – EU-Western Balkans Summit in Sofia should reaffirm the European perspective of the whole region, said President of the European Council Donald Tusk in Sarajevo on Thursday.
“The European Union is and remains the most reliable partner for the Western Balkans. As by far the biggest investor, the biggest donor and the biggest trading partner for the whole region. This is also the case for your country,” Tusk said, adding that more than 70% of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s exports go to the European Union.
He also explained that more important than trade, is “our political partnership and shared values of democracy, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.”
When it comes to summit in Sofia, Tusk said it will aim to improve connections with and within the region – human, digital or infrastructure connections.
“We want to further connect the Balkans and the EU through concrete projects like roads and roaming. A good example of this is the signature today of a European Investment Bank loan worth 150 million Euro for two segments of the Corridor 5C pan-European highway, connecting Zenica with Mostar. One day this will be part of the transport arteries of a re-united Europe, helping to connect Mediterranean regions with Central European regions including my native Poland,” Tusk said.
When it comes to security, he explained that EU and Western Balkans should work together more closely to tackle common security challenges.
“Balkan security is European security. For both sides it is essential to invest even more in fighting trafficking and migrant smuggling, weapons and drugs smuggling, organised crime and terrorism,” he said, adding that this will also be discussed at the summit in Sofia.
Focusing on Bosnia and Herzegovina, he noted there is a lot of good will on the EU side.
“We stand ready to continue delivering on our promises. And to assist you in your efforts. But as friends we are also obliged to tell you what concerns us. One such issue is definitely the stalled electoral reform. The EU is ready to contribute to the successful resolution of the current impasse, which ultimately would be in the best interest of your country,” Tusk said.