Brdo-Brijuni summit pledges to boost reform effort in the region
Regional leaders gathered for the Brdo-Brijuni Process summit in Skopje on 11 September that was co-sponsored by Slovenia stressed the importance of accelerated EU integration of the Western Balkans in a joint declaration. They pledged to boost strategic dialogue with EU institutions and efforts to implement reforms in the region.
Co-hosting the summit with her Croatian and Macedonian counterparts, Slovenian President Nataša Pirc Musar indicated it was a major success that the leaders managed to agree the wording of the declaration ahead of the summit and unanimously adopt it at the event.
The document also underscores the need to adapt to climate change and take measures to revitalise the societies and keep young people in the region.
The document will be followed by an action plan. "In previous years, there were declarations and commitments, but this year we decided that the declaration should be followed by an action plan," Pirc Musar said at a news conference at the end of the summit.
Part of the action plan will be the Western Balkans's entry into the free mobile roaming area and the accession of the countries from the region to the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
In their joint address to reporters, the heads of state of Slovenia, Croatia and North Macedonia called the talks constructive with Pirc Musar saying the summit had been held in a positive atmosphere.
Sharing the view, Croatian President Zoran Milanović said they had discussed "topics that unite, not those that have not yet been resolved, because experience shows this is counterproductive and even harmful".
As the president who was primarily responsible for the content, Pirc Musar said she wanted to emphasise "the content that doesn't divide us, but unites us".
Apart from EU integration, the summit discussed climate change and the young, she said, stressing that Slovenia will support all Western Balkan countries on their path to be integrated into the EU and that it is always willing to help.
"It's important that the Bled Strategic Forum has given us a more tangible timeframe," she said, adding that the EU must now keep its promise "while the countries in the region must fit all the necessary reforms into this timeframe".
This is in reference to European Council President Charles Michel telling the event in Bled last month that the EU and the Western Balkans must be ready for enlargement by 2030.
Pirc Musar said there were many challenges, but stressed that the summit concluded in the spirit of "not less, but more Europe, including more Europe in this region".
She is not in favour of delaying enlargement due to bilateral issues nor is she in favour of a two-speed Europe as proposed by some EU members.
"When a country joins the EU, it is a full-fledged and equal member that must have exactly the same rights and obligations. But I think it's good that Western Balkan countries are joining certain projects that are easier to implement at this stage."
She announced that a decision on which of the participating countries will host the next summit will be made next month.
Apart from the three hosts, the summit was attended by the presidents of Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia as well as all three members of the Presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The Brdo-Brijuni Process was launched in 2010 by the Slovenian and Croatian prime ministers at the time, Borut Pahor and Jadranka Kosor, to promote the Western Balkans' integration into the EU.