The EU remains firmly committed to the European integration of the Western Balkans, where working to “bridge differences and create spaces for cooperation” is the only way “to preserve and advance peace”, which is clearly in the interests of EU citizens.
“It is obvious that all the Balkans should be – and eventually, will be – part of our European Union”, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini said on 4 September at the Bled Strategic Forum. “The people of the Balkans are European” and they “deserve to benefit from the same opportunities, the same safeguards and rights as all other citizens of this continent”, Mogherini said.
The High Representative also pointed out that the policy “to bridge differences and create spaces for cooperation” is the only way “to preserve and advance peace” while addressing the interests and needs of EU citizens. With this in mind, Mogherini welcomed the “new determination to address all the outstanding issues” found by the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo in the framework of the EU-facilitated Dialogue the High Representative hosted in Brussels last week.
Confirming the EU’s consistent approach to relations with the region, Mogherini recalled the commitment taken 13 years ago in at the Thessaloniki Summit and reiterated this year at the March European Council by all 28 Member States. The High Representative also stressed her personal engagement to the region, saying that by the end of the current European Commission’s mandate she expects “practical and measurable progress for all our six partners in the Western Balkans”.
The Bled Strategic Forum (BSF) is an annual meeting bringing together decision-makers from different fields (heads of state and government, ministers, diplomats, representatives of the business sphere, scholars and the media from the entire world) to encourage open debate on contemporary political, security and development challenges, and to look for new ideas and solutions. This year, the Bled Strategic Forum took place on 4-5 September.