LJUBLJANA – “The Western Balkans can always count on the support of Slovenia. We will remain a staunch supporter of the EU enlargement process at full speed”, writes Slovenian Foreign Minister, Tanja Fajon, in an OP-ED, Euronews Albania reported. “A friend of the region for better or for worse. For example, Slovenia already advocates opening Bosnia-Herzegovina’s EU accession negotiations by the end of this year”.
According to Fajon, this year the discussions clearly exceeded the regional focus and had a global scope, the greatest interest was directed to the future of the Western Balkans within the EU.
“The idea presented by the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, that the EU and the Western Balkans should be ready for enlargement by 2030, resonated greatly. The so-called “Bled promise” did not leave anyone cold-hearted, but raised a question mark for everyone whether both sides can really be ready for the expansion by that date”, explains the Slovenian Foreign Minister.
She assesses that the opportunity “is here and we must seize it at full speed”.
“The geopolitical landscape makes it clear that EU enlargement has no alternative. The war in Ukraine has increased the appetite for enlargement, as well as affirmed the notion that enlargement is a strategic necessity for the EU. In simple words – it’s now or never. This, of course, does not mean that the EU enlargement criteria will be removed and that the Western Balkans can enter the Union without meeting them. This means that more political attention will be given to the region and that the countries of the Western Balkans will be asked to do so appropriately”, Fajon writes.
She believes that for the EU this means a commitment to reform its decision-making process and to prepare, institutionally and financially.
” The EU with more than 30 member states at the table simply cannot be as efficient as it should be. Such reform will not be an easy task, but it is necessary. And it is of strategic importance for the EU, on the same level of importance as enlargement. Skeptics would argue that all these tasks look very difficult until 2030. But realistically there will not be a better offer on the table for the Western Balkan countries and a better opportunity for the Union to improved and adapted to new global realities”, states Fajon.
She concludes that these difficult times will require courageous leaders on both sides, who will look to the future.
“Leaders who would be willing to put enlargement at the top of their agenda and make the necessary decisions to enable enlargement. Therefore, the European elections will be an important historical moment for the 2030 objective. Regardless of the elections, the Western Balkans can always count on Slovenia’s support”, Fajon concluded.