Leaders of the Western Balkans meet with Macron in Paris

Emmanuel Macron and Aleksandar Vučić; Photo: Tanjug / Presidency of Serbia

PARIS – On the sidelines of the second Paris Peace Forum, the Western Balkan leaders Aleksandar Vučić, the President of Serbia, Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaçi and the president of North Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski met with the French president Emmanuel Macron to discuss regional challenges.

The second Paris Peace Forum, dedicated to the 101st anniversary of the end of World War I, opened on Sunday at Grand-Al Expo Center.

The three heads of the Western Balkan states are paying a two-day visit to the second Paris Peace Forum, where they attended the dinner alongside other heads of states and international organizations participating in the Forum.

Vučić and Thaçi met Macron respectively in an unofficial setting on Monday evening.

The President of Serbia spoke with Macron about the realization of the “mini-Schengen” created on the initiative of Tirana, Skopje and Belgrade. The two Presidents also discussed the perspectives of “new ideas for redefining the EU”, as stated by Macron.

“We spoke about the future of Europe in general terms”, noted a post on “Future of Serbia” Instagram profile, ran by the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, quoting Vučić’s statement.

“We also discussed the regional initiative, mini-Schengen launched between Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania”, said Vučić, adding that he expects Macron to support the initiative in the future.

The President of Kosovo Hashim Thaçi sat with Macron to discuss Kosovo’s European perspective and visa liberalization for the citizens of Kosovo.

“We are ready to continue the dialogue with Serbia and to reach a final, peace agreement that will promote mutual recognition and facilitate Kosovo’s membership of the United Nations”,  said Thaçi during the meeting with Macron. He also stated that rounding up the international subjectivity of Kosovo will open the way to foreign investment and greater opportunities for a better life of Kosovo citizens. Thaçi reiterated that Kosovo’s goal is to join NATO and EU in the future.

Thaçi is scheduled to speak on Tuesday at a special panel, where he will discuss the successes and challenges of sustainable peace in Kosovo.

The President of North Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski will meet with Macron later today. During his visit, Pendarovski is also scheduled to meet with the Austrian Chancellor Brigitte Bierlein, UN Secretary-General António Guterres and the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Pendarovski will also address the Forum on Tuesday, where he will speak about security in the Western Balkans.

Migration, cyber security and climate change in focus

The second Paris Peace Forum, taking place on 11-13 November, has gathered the heads of state and the representatives of non-governmental organizations to discuss possible solutions to global challenges such as climate change, migration, terrorism and cyber security.

“The world we live in is weakened by crises that destabilize our society,” said Macron at the opening, adding that terrorism, the proliferation of chemical weapons, cybercrime as well as racism, anti-Semitism and extremism, are the biggest challenges the global society faces today.

On Tuesday, November 12, the French President kicked off the second day of the Forum expressed his concerns about the climate change, stating that he believes China will become a global leader in fighting climate change in the future.

The final day of the Forum will be dedicated to cyber security, fake news and innovations in education.