EU enlargement a response to strategic challenges, says Janša

Brdo pri Kranju – EU enlargement is one of Slovenian EU presidency priorities and a response to strategic challenges, Prime Minister Janez Janša told Thursday’s press conference after a meeting between the government and the EU Commission delegation marking the start of the presidency stint. Slovenia will host an EU-Western Balkans summit in October.

In the next six months there will be a return to addressing enlargement as a strategic response to open issues, Janša said at the press conference he held with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

He noted he shared dreams of the EU’s founding fathers about a free, whole Europe that is at peace with itself and coexists peacefully with its neighbourhood.

EU enlargement is a strategic response to many challenges, he said. “In the past decade, when [enlargement] was not at the forefront, we have seen that someone else has been extending to the Western Balkans and not to spread freedom and the rule of law.”

The Slovenian presidency will work on resolving dilemmas and reaching a consensus on enlargement among member states, he highlighted.

During Portugal’s presidency, an agreement on the start of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania was not reached.

The process has been at a standstill due to Bulgaria’s blocking North Macedonia’s EU path over a linguistic dispute. When it comes to Albania, there is no veto, however most member states think that North Macedonia and Albania’s accession talks should not be decoupled.

Commission president von der Leyen expressed support today for Slovenia’s efforts in this respect and the organisation of the EU-Western Balkans summit.

She said that the Commission was committed to supporting the Western Balkans and would like to see progress so that the negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania could be formally launched. Together we will strive for a long-term recovery of the region, she said.