The Slovenia Times

President Pahor Warns Western Balkans at a Crossroads


The leaders of the regional Brdo Process have achieved significant headway in building dialogue, trust and reconciliation, but caution is advised.

The region can either chose the right, European path, or the wrong path "of conflict and loss of trust between leaders, nations and states," he told the press after a summit of the region's leaders in Budva, Montenegro.

The message of the summit is that "the European path is the only path for a successful Western Balkans."

But he said the EU as a whole and member states needed to provide incentives and understand how important it is for the bloc to be politically involved in the region and encourage reform processes.

"The leaders...are willing to do everything to chose the right path. Now we urgently need political impetus from the EU so the Western Balkans does not become the scene of geopolitical conflict."

Accordingly, he urged a "much stronger" push for EU enlargement. "Now is the time, now is the opportunity," he said.

The presidents decided today to send a letter to the European Council President Donald Tusk and request a meeting between EU and Western Balkans leaders.

The meeting featured Pahor, Croatia's Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Montenegro's Filip Vujanović, the head of the Bosnian presidency Mladen Ivanić, Macedonia's Gjorge Ivanov, Kosovo's Atifete Jahjaga, Serbia's Tomislav Nikolić and Albania's Bujar Nishani.

Like Pahor, the other presidents stressed that EU integration is the only alternative for the EU, noting that despite clear enlargement fatigue the EU needs to support reforms in the region.

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said the EU needed to sent certain messages to the region in order to uphold support not just for EU membership but also for reform processes, Serbian press agency Beta reported.

Macedonia was high on the agenda due to the recent deterioration of the security situation and a deep political crisis.

The leaders agreed that Pahor and Grabar-Kitarović would travel to Macedonia shortly to help establish dialogue and aid efforts to resolve the crisis.

Pahor told reporters that Macedonia first needed to carry out a comprehensive investigation of the recent incidents. He appealed on all political players to reach a compromise solution, Serbian press agency Tanjug reported.

It was also announced that a conference would be held in Vienna in late August at which prime ministers and other cabinet members would discuss specific projects to improve transport links in the region.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande are expected to attend, Beta reported.

The Brdo Process, which was launched jointly by Slovenia and Croatia in 2010, is a forum within which representatives of the EU and the region discuss questions and challenges of Western Balkan countries and process of their EU accession.

The Budva summit, hosted by Pahor and Croatia's Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, featured presidents from the region and Austrian President Heinz Fischer as a special guest. The next meeting will be held in Bosnia-Herzegovina.


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