Yesterday’s EU-Western Balkans Zagreb Summit is a positive signal to the region, but proved to be more business as usual, failing to deliver stronger commitments from both sides. The European perspective of the Western Balkans needs the unequivocal support of the EU, but it also needs direct discussion and concrete actions.
The EU financial support package of €3.3 billion is more than a symbolic gesture, as it will lead to deeper cooperation with the region. The European Commission must also include the Western Balkans in the EU reconstruction plan, as the plan will play an important role in determining the political priorities of the Western Balkan countries. Both the package and plan should be in line with the Green Deal, and support investment in a more socially, economically and environmentally resilient Europe.
The European Council finally decided to open accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia last March, but failed to address the decision in the summit’s official statement yesterday. As both countries have presented significant democractic reforms, it is now crucial for the EU to move forward with the negotiations. The European Greens have long called for the EU accession process to start with these two countries, as the future of the Western Balkans as a whole is in the EU.
Thomas Waitz, co-chair of the European Green Party and MEP, comments:
“Finally the European Union is starting to deliver on the promises given to these key members of the European family. The EU is more than just a partner and we owe progress to the citizens of the region, supporting freedoms and democratisation processes that are hard but absolutely necessary for the whole of Europe to prosper. It is more than wise not to leave the region to foreign powers like Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia or China.”
Maja Morachanin, president of DOM, the North Macedonia’s member party of the EGP, comments:
“We are committed to direct our efforts into the hard work ahead of us following the EU's decision to open negotiations with North Macedonia. The EU financial support package confirms the EU’s commitment that the Western Balkans are an integral part of Europe and encourages the hope that North Macedonia will soon finally start the accession negotiations.”
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