EU-Balkans summit Tuesday in Tirana, first in the region

Aim to strengthen strategic alliance with partner countries

05 December, 18:10

    (ANSAmed) - BRUSSELS, DECEMBER 5 - The EU-Western Balkans summit starts on Tuesday in Tirana, the first to be held in the region. The highly symbolic choice indicates Brussels' will to relaunch the European integration of Balkan partners, stuck for years, and to boost strategic cooperation with the region. Many issues are on the table, from the Russian invasion of Ukraine to resilience against foreign interference, to the management of immigration. Another issue is the relaunch of the enlargement policy in the Balkans, with particular emphasis on the rule of law and the alignment of the EU foreign policy, including restrictive measures imposed by Brussels against Moscow. The reference is to Serbia, the only country of the Balkans to refuse so far to adopt EU sanctions against its traditional ally, Russia, while condemning Moscow for the war of aggression against Ukraine. The European Parliament on this point has asked for more severity, proposing to freeze adhesion negotiations until Belgrade will not align with European policies.

    Part of the agenda is dedicated to the gradual integration of Balkan partners in the EU already during the enlargement process. This is true especially for the integration of Balkan markets within the European common market. Moreover tomorrow phone operators in the EU and western Balkans will sign a declaration in which they commit to reducing roaming costs between the EU and the region next year. No decision is instead expected from the summit on the status of EU candidate for Bosnia-Herzegovina. The theme will be discussed at the General Affairs Council next week before it reaches the summit of European leaders, possibly already one scheduled on December 15-16. The summit in Tirana will be an occasion to encourage Balkan countries to resolve disputes inherited from the past, including one between Serbia and Kosovo, which risks to cast a shadow on the summit.

    In the end Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic decided to attend the summit. Quoted by the media, he said that going to Tirana was more advantageous for Serbia than not going. The president made the decision after talks held Monday in Belgrade with EU special envoy Miroslav Lajcak, with whom he spoke about the situation in Kosovo and prospects of dialogue with Pristina, held with the mediation of the European Union. Vucic had recently announced his refusal to attend the summit in Tirana to protest against what he claimed was a lack of reaction from the EU on the appointment of a new Serbian minister in Kosovo's government, a member of the opposition to Belgrade leadership.

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