European Western Balkans

Borrell ready to have further discussions with Member States on the Western Balkans

Josep Borrell; Photo: Flickr / European Parliament

BRUSSELS – Following the letter signed by nine EU foreign ministers calling for a strategic discussion on the Western Balkans, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell will continue with further discussion on the region with the Member States, an EU Spokesperson confirmed for the European Western Balkans.

According to the Spokesperson, the region remains a priority for the European Union.

“The Western Balkans are a priority for the European Union – the EU is the main political, economic and trade partner of the region, whose future clearly lies in the EU”, she stressed.

Asked whether the High Representative has an initial comment on the letter of nine members of the EU for returning Western Balkans on the EU’s ministers agenda,  the Spokesperson says that the High Representative shares the opinion expressed in the letter of the Foreign Ministers.

“The High Representative continues his strong engagement with the Western Balkans political leadership and is ready to have further discussions with the Member States on the region”, she underlines.

Nine Foreign Ministers of the EU called for the return of the Western Balkans on the bloc’s foreign ministers agenda on Friday, stressing that other actors are ready to step in the regional affairs, often at EU’s expense.

“It’s time to look at the Western Balkans strategically”, the foreign ministers of Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Romania, Ireland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia wrote to Josep Borrell, the EU chief diplomat.

The ministers said that a lot happened since the last enlargement discussion in August 2019, warning about the coronavirus pandemic’s geopolitical consequences.

“A dynamic internal policy development happened in regional countries. But the pandemic worsened the existing trends”, the ministers said, adding that other players are ready to get involved in the regional issues often at the EU expense.

They said the Western Balkans should be looked at in the light of foreign policy and asked Borrell to consider an answer to the current crisis on the ground and be more active regarding other players’ engagement in that area.

The ministers recalled that the EU provided huge support to the region but that the others were more effective in promoting their help, undermining the reliability, credibility and the perception of the EU’s solidarity.

That is why the signatories to the letter to Borrell believe the Western Balkans should hit the agenda of the next session of the EU Foreign Policy Council due in Luxembourg on April 19.

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