Some 350 participants at the Belgrade Security Forum (BBF) called on the European Union to increase its role in the Western Balkans and warned the bloc’s credibility could become questionable if promises were not met, the Beta news agency reported on Friday.
In joint conclusions after the meeting, the participants also asked the EU not to delay with setting a date for the opening of accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia and to grant a visa-free regime to people in Kosovo.
In the meantime, the EU outgoing Commissioner for Enlargement Johannes Hahn said he was disappointed with the bloc’s ruling not to decide on the date for the start of the negotiations with Skopje and Tirana.
Hahn wrote on his Twitter account that the EU and member states should now make clear how serious their commitment to the European integration of the Western Balkans was.
#EUleaders failed to live up to their commitment to open#accessionnegotiations with#NorthMacedoniaand#Albaniaat#EUCO. This is a matter of extreme disappointment.#EU#MSnow need to clarify how serious their commitment is to the#WesternBalkans’#EUintegration. 1/4— Johannes Hahn (@JHahnEU)October 18, 2019
Back to Belgrade, the Vice-President of the European Movement in Serbia Vladimir Medjak told the BBF closing session that the EU would not be complete without all Western Balkans countries and that the future of the region was in the EU.
“If the EU doesn’t fulfil the promise after some of the Western Balkans countries made historic compromises and implemented necessary reforms, it will strengthen the anti-European forces which promote nationalism and irresponsible behaviour of the political elites,” Medjak said.
He added that if the EU wanted to act geopolitically, the integration of the Western Balkans should be the first step in that direction.