Balkans-EU: summit to reopen European perspective tomorrow

In video conference: adoption of Zagreb declaration expected

05 May, 16:00

    (ANSAmed) - ZAGREB, MAY 5 - The summit between the EU and western Balkan countries that vie to become Union members will be held tomorrow, as scheduled. However, in lieu of a large gathering in Zagreb, with many events on the sidelines, some 40 European leaders will meet in video conference due to the coronavirus pandemic. The conference is organized by Croatian Premier Andrej Plenkovic, whose country has the rotating presidency this semester. The conference will be attended, along with the leaders of 27 member States and top EU officials, by the presidents and premiers of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

    Leaders are expected to adopt the declaration of Zagreb in which the EU, as reported by Croatian media, ''will reaffirm the support of the European perspective of the western Balkans'' while the six Balkan countries will request ''their full pledge to a European perspective as their convinced strategic choice''.

    The fact that enlargement or integration will not be mentioned and will be replaced by the vague ''European perspective'', wrote today the Zagreb-based Jutarnji list quoting diplomatic sources, is the consequence of skepticism by some countries, especially France and the Netherlands and in part Germany, Denmark and Sweden, who have reportedly asked the Croatian premier ''not to turn this event into an enlargement summit''.

    No reference will be made to the fact that in March Brussels approved the opening of adhesion talks with Albania and North Macedonia.

    Press reports noted that, compared to the great EU-Balkans summit held in 2000 in Zagreb, tomorrow's summit offers to the region less than what was promised 20 years ago. In order to avoid controversies on Kosovo's status, which is not recognized as an independent state by five EU countries, all leaders will sit in front of a neutral background without symbols of states and names of their respective countries. Only the name of participants will appear on the screen. According to the reports, this format was agreed at Spain's explicit request ''that does not want to attend meetings in which Kosovo is presented as an independent State''. For the same reason, in the final statement the expression ''partners in the western Balkans'' is used to avoid the word ''states''. Along with Spain, Kosovo's independence is not recognized in the EU by Romania, Greece, Cyprus and Slovakia.(ANSAmed).

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