EU officials meet with Western Balkan leaders in Brussels

Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic said on Sunday that the meeting of the new European Union leadership with the Western Balkan leaders in Brussels was good, “especially for Serbia”, while his Kosovo’s counterpart Hashim Thaci warned that new EU envoy should treat Kosovo as an independent state.

After an informal dinner with the EU leaders, Vucic added the Union was ready to listen to all the initiatives and new ideas from the Western Balkan countries.

The informal dinner was organized by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel with Ursula Von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, High Commissioner for Foreign and Security Policy Joseph Borrell and Andrej Plenkovic, the Prime Minister of Croatia, the EU presiding country, also in attendance.

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Following the dinner, Vucic added the EU would soon send its teams to discuss ideas and initiatives and that an investment package for the region would soon be ready.

He denied any disagreements during the talks. “We did not come here to argue; we are here to fight for ourselves individually and for the whole region,” Vucic was quoted as saying.

Referring to the EU decision to send its special envoy to facilitate the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalization of relations, Thaci said that “whoever that person is, Kosovo must be treated “as a sovereign state” during the dialogue.”

He also said that the EU’s role in the dialogue was important, but that the US involvement was “irreplaceable.”

Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic said that the Western Balkans should overcome all challenges from its past to forward to the EU. “Montenegro is ready to solve problems with other countries in the best European spirit and heritage.” He added that the EU’s support for the bloc’s enlargement should not be just declarative.

Von der Leyen said the EU’s fundamental interest was for the Western Balkans to be as close to the bloc as possible.

“We want to build the road for launching accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania maybe even before the Zagreb Summit, due in May”, she added.

Next month the European Commission is due to publish an individual report for each of the six Western Balkan candidate countries — Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia and Serbia.

“It’s about engaging in a political dialogue at the highest level” with the Balkan nations “and to understand their expectations, before the summit in Zagreb on 17 May,” Michel said.

(N1, 16.02.2020)

This post is also available in: Italiano

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