The Presidents and Speakers of the parliaments of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo yesterday issued a joint Appeal for assistance to the Western Balkans region in combating the coronavirus pandemic to the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the European Parliament President David Sassoli.
They stated that they are aware of the complexity of the current situation and the problems all are facing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and added that with the joint appeal they would like to point to the currently very unfavorable and challenging situation in the Western Balkans region, both in terms of the number of infected, as well as the inadequate equipment of health systems in the region with adequate medical equipment and apparatus necessary for the successful prevention, treatment and stopping of further spread of coronavirus.
“In this respect, we now need, more than ever, solidarity, a coordinated approach and joint action. That is way we urge that the Western Balkans, which has always clearly and unequivocally emphasized that it belongs to the European family, should be exempted from the decision to restrict the export of medical equipment from the European Union in order to become, through the transfer of experience gained and the necessary equipment and medical supplies, part of a common European response to coping with the coronavirus pandemic,” it is stated in the appeal.
The President and Speakers of the Western Balkans urged the EU representatives to consider the possibility of including the Western Balkan region in the EU + export license scheme, to enable the Western Balkans region, if it deems it necessary, to accede to the Joint Procurement Agreement for medical countermeasures and thus to participate in the joint public procurement of medical and protective equipment to combat the coronavirus pandemic, to consider allowing the Western Balkans region to divert unspent funds from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA II) to combat the coronavirus pandemic, as well as to use all other funds available from the various EU funds available for this purpose.
“In addition to the proposed measures, on behalf of parliaments, we welcome any type of aid that the European Union is prepared to make available to the Western Balkan region. We are convinced that this appeal will have a positive outcome, because we in the Western Balkans, i.e. Southeast Europe, sincerely believe in European solidarity and our common European future,” the appeal concludes.