Pahor and Vučić discuss situation in region

Belgrade – Visiting Belgrade as part of the preparations for the next summit of the Brdo-Brijuni Process, President Borut Pahor met his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vučić on Sunday. Pahor said that the process of EU enlargement to the Western Balkans was too slow, which led to renewed policies of nationalism and border changes that threaten security.

Speaking at a joint press conference after the meeting, both presidents noted excellent bilateral cooperation between Slovenia and Serbia, which Pahor described as important for both countries as well as the region and stability in the entire Europe.

The pair mainly discussed the region’s EU prospects, Pahor said as quoted by his office.

“I have always found in him [Vučić] a sincere interlocutor. Even if we disagreed or disagree on something, it is always very important to understand the views of Serbia regarding this issue, and in this way better understand the process we are witnessing in the Western Balkans,” Pahor said.

He reiterated Slovenia’s support for the region’s EU accession efforts. The goal of Western Balkan countries joining the EU is important for the well-being of people in the region and the EU, and particularly in recent times it is becoming key for maintaining security.

“In my estimation, the process of integrating the Western Balkans into the EU is too slow, and, as a result, the policies of nationalisms and border changes that are dangerous to this peace and security are being strengthened again,” Pahor warned.

Both sides should step up their efforts in this process, the Slovenian president added.

Vučić and Pahor agree that if the EU manages to welcome the region in a relatively short time, the rise of nationalisms and the ideas of changing borders would not be present, Pahor said, adding that it was in the EU’s interest to keep EU enlargement to the region on the agenda of its institutions.

He is worried by certain processes in the region, perhaps even more today than he was years ago. Some statements have raised concern and this can be tackled only by a rapid and successful enlargement process, he said.

Commenting on the Open Balkan initiative, Pahor said that unlike most of his colleagues he approves of it because he does not see it as an alternative to EU enlargement to the region but as a parallel process that inspires cooperation between the people and countries of the region and eliminates misunderstandings and problems that could jeopardise peace and security as well as economic prosperity.

Asked whether the pair talked about why the EU did not condemn statements by Albanian representatives on the “creation of a Greater Albania”, Pahor said he could not speak on behalf of the EU, highlighting that statements on border changes threatened peace and security in the region and deepened concerns.

Vučić meanwhile said that he did not know if or when the EU would respond to these statements given that they had been given ten days ago.

“Imagine if we started talking about merging with someone else – and we won’t and we don’t want to. Do you know how much it would take to respond? A minute and a half for Brussels and all European cities,” he said, adding that Slovenia strived to help as much as it could.

Pahor is to visit Kosovo on Monday where he will meet the country’s President Vjosa Osmani and Prime Minister Albin Kurti. He will also meet senior KFOR representatives and Slovenian soldiers serving in the mission.

During tomorrow’s visit, he intends to call for the implementation of the Brussels agreements that are part of the dialogue between Belgrade and Prishtina. The dialogue has been suspended but should continue, he said.

According to the Serbian press agency Tanjug, Vučić said that Serbia wanted good cooperation with KFOR.

He added that a date was expected to be set for the joint session of the Slovenian and Serbian governments in Slovenia.

Vučić also met today Milorad Dodik, the Serbian member of the Bosnia-Herzegovina presidency, who informed him of the situation in the country.