The Slovenia Times

Fajon says now is time for enlargement push

Bled Strategic ForumPolitics
Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon at the 2023 Bled Strategic Forum. Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon sees 2023 as a key year for enlargement after Council President Charles Michel identified 2030 as the year both the EU and Western Balkans countries should be ready for enlargement. "The commitment may be important symbolically and politically, but it is important temporally," she said at the Bled Strategic Forum.

The European Parliament election is taking place next year and it will take until autumn next year before a new Commission is formed. "This is why I say that now is the crucial time and this is why the year [2030] should not be seen as unimportant, I see it very differently," she said in a statement on 29 August.

Having talked to Western Balkan leaders and foreign ministers in Bled, Fajon said it was "very important for them that there is now a timeline of sorts".

Fajon added that this would be a political decision and that the EU summit in December will be key since EU leaders will be deciding on the start of accession talks for Ukraine and the Eastern Neighbourhood.

She said that if countries in the Western Balkans "do their job, at least in terms of being convincing in their commitment", there will be sufficient political arguments and "we can be much more bold and daring politically" in December.

Asked what specifically should be achieved at the December summit, Fajon said there were a lot of ideas that would now be formulated into what is realistic.

One thing she mentioned was coupling technical talks with a "faster approach," such as encouraging aspiring members to "get used to the EU" through steps such as observers in the European Parliament, or by gradually entering the single market.

"These can be individual steps towards full membership," she said.

As for Slovenia's role in the process, Fajon said the country is among the biggest advocates of enlargement. She is in favour of "ambitiousness and the awareness that the political situation today is new and significantly different".

"Slovenia will definitely be among the front-runners in working with like-minded countries in efforts to accelerate enlargement to the Western Balkans and not waste the opportunity... If we miss the train this year, I'm afraid we might leave these countries behind for many years."


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