Viola von Cramon MEP from the Greens/EFA said that the talks with Western Balkans leaders in Brussels were “a complete failure” and that the meagre outcome could only make Russian President Vladimir Putin happy.
“This summit for the Western Balkans was a complete failure. I have to admit that I’m terribly disappointed,” said Von Cramon in an interview with Euractiv.
She said the European Commission was calling itself a “geopolitical” Commission, but that six Balkan leaders traveled to Brussels and were given nothing.
“Neither has Bosnia got the candidate status, worse still, North Macedonia and Albania didn’t get accession negotiations, and Kosovo didn’t get visa liberalization, an issue that has been dragging on for four years now. This is really a disastrous signal. There is only one person happy from this situation, and this guy sits in the Kremlin,” Von Cramon told Euractiv.
Asked if a chance was missed to give Serbia a clear message at the summit that it should align with EU foreign policy and sanctions against Russia, Von Cramon said she was not surprised by this because no real argument was put before Serbia.
“The real argument should be: If you don’t align with foreign policy, then we will suspend the funds. But I haven’t heard anyone saying this,” she said, adding that she heard from the civil society in Belgrade there is fear that pushing on sanctions very hard would mean having to give up on democratic principles – media freedom, party pluralism and so on.
Commenting on the Open Balkan initiative, Von Cramon said that “it is not based on principles, it’s not based on standards and criteria, and if we go ahead with this, we would actually undermine the merit-based process of the EU accession”.
Von Cramon described the decision to grant candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova as “very cheap”.
“It doesn’t cost anything to give them a candidate status in a geopolitically very tense situation. They can be with this candidate status in the waiting room, as we have seen with Turkey and the Western Balkans, forever. The candidate status is the least the EU leaders could do, without having any financial obligations,” said Von Cramon, adding that it is good to have EU unity and for the Ukrainians – a goal, while they are fighting a “terrible war”.