Brussels, 1 June 2010
EU to reaffirm its commitment to Western Balkans at Sarajevo meeting
Catherine Ashton, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, and Commissioner for Enlargement Štefan Füle will on Wednesday, June 2, participate in the European Union-Western Balkans High Level Meeting in Sarajevo. The main objective of the meeting – where EU Foreign Ministers and Foreign Ministers from Western Balkans countries will also participate – is to reaffirm the EU’s commitment to Western Balkans and its European perspective.
HR/VP Catherine Ashton said ahead of Sarajevo meeting: “Integrating the Western Balkans into the European family of nations remains one of the last challenges to building a democratic and unified Europe. In Sarajevo, the EU will reaffirm the Balkans’ place in Europe and the European perspective for the region."
Štefan Füle, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy said: "The Conference provided a timely confirmation of the perspective of EU membership for the Western Balkans and the continuation of the enlargement process. I welcome the commitment expressed by the Western Balkans to intensify the pace of reforms in key areas and to further strengthen inclusive and efficient regional cooperation. The Commission will support the Western Balkans in these endeavours. Enlargement is based on strong conditionalities but it is first of all a political project. I am glad Sarajevo Conference underlined that."
The Sarajevo meeting, organized by the Spanish Presidency with the support of the EU, will mark the 10th anniversary of the Zagreb Summit of 25 November 2000, where EU launched the Stabilization and Association Process and the European perspective for Western Balkans. They were confirmed at the Thessaloniki Summit in 2003, where regular high-level meetings were also launched.
In Sarajevo, the EU and the countries of the region, but also participants from US, Russia, Turkey, OSCE, Council of Europe and NATO, are expected to welcome the progress of the last decade that brought the Balkans from war-torn times on the road to prosperity. Challenges remain: rule of law, fight against corruption and organized crime, freedom of the media. Regional cooperation remains key, as well as the process of reconciliation and addressing outstanding issues.