Slovenian, Albanian presidents discuss EU enlargement

Ljubljana – President Borut Pahor hosted a working lunch for Albania’s outgoing President Ilir Meta in Ljubljana on Tuesday. The pair underlined the importance of EU enlargement onto the Western Balkans, with Pahor warning against an idea of a more vague political community which would not see the region integrated in the EU.

Talking to the press after their lunch, Pahor said he had the opportunity to speak to several Western Balkan leaders recently, all of whom were very concerned about this idea.

They fear that in time the enlargement idea would be replaced with an idea of a political community that would not see the region as part of the EU but as part of a broader political community which would not be fully integrated into the EU.

Similarly to other Western Balkan leaders, Meta said the EU must not go down that path because “it would be a historical mistake”. Pahor said he shared this view.

Meta thanked Slovenia and Pahor personally for their support for Albania’s efforts to launch EU accession talks, and for its broader efforts to boost the Western Balkan integration in the EU.

Meta said that he and Pahor agreed that Western Balkan countries must continue to do their best, persist with reforms and show good results.

The EU must remain the driving force of Albania’s society, said Meta, adding that this is vital not only for democracy, the rule of law, the economy and the standard of living, but also for stability and peace in the region as well as Europe.

Meanwhile, the EU must a “show better understanding of the importance of the Western Balkans for the EU and Europe as a whole”, said Meta.

“Therefore we showed support for the EU’s decision to grant Ukraine and Moldova candidate status. It is key to show that the enlargement process continues,” said Meta, referring to Western Balkan leaders.

Two decades after the EU promised the prospect of membership to the Western Balkan countries, the process is at a standstill.

The start of Albania and North Macedonia’s accession talks is being blocked by Greece and Bulgaria over bilateral issues with North Macedonia, while the EU insists on treating the two countries in a package.

Meta wishes that the next Brdo-Brijuni Process summit, scheduled for 12 September, will give a fresh impetus to the enlargement process and the efforts of Western Balkan countries.