Tuesday

23rd Aug 2016

Slovenian EU presidency to push for further Balkan integration

Keen on pushing forward EU integration of the Balkan countries during its presidency of the bloc from January to July next year, Slovenia has sent a letter to EU leaders and the European commission calling for "brave decisions" regarding the region.

"If we wish to realise the idea of the founding fathers of a Europe whole and free, we must take brave decisions regarding the Western Balkans", reads the letter by Slovenian prime minister Janez Jansa.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Slovenia would like to see more Balkan countries in the EU (Photo: European Commission)

As a country geographically close to the so-called Western Balkan region – Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Albania – Slovenia has repeatedly claimed it would make it a priority for its time at the head of the EU to work on strengthening the ties between the Balkan region and the 27-member bloc.

Its letter says it wants to promote enlargement towards the Balkans in general, while pointing to some countries in particular.

Macedonia "deserves further support" and accession negotiations with Skopje should be launched soon, while Sarajevo "should not be forgotten", says the Slovenian premier.

He also takes the example of Serbia as one of the countries where progress could soon be achieved.

"With the necessary conditions met, Serbia could be granted the candidate status within a few months or at least in the first half of 2008", reads the letter.

On top of that, "the process of granting the candidate status for Serbia should not be made conditional upon the process of deciding the future status of [the breakaway province of] Kosovo", Mr Jansa underlines.

The European commission has received the letter and read it with "obvious great interest", a spokesperson for the EU executive said on Monday (1 October) but pointed to Serbia's international obligations to the current war crimes tribunal.

Serbia and the EU last month finalised talks on the text of a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) – the first step towards EU integration.

But in order for it to be concluded, Belgrade has to fully cooperate with the International Crime Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

ICTY prosecutor Carla Del Ponte is to submit an assessment of Serbia's cooperation "shortly", but an exact date has not yet been given.

Being realistic

The Slovene letter has already caused some optimistic voices in the region.

"Since during the course of a presidency, the chair can have a major influence on the EU decision-making process and put certain issues to the forefront, it's particularly significant that Slovenia has, in the course of her preparations, raised the question", Ksenija Milivojevic, adviser for EU questions to the Serbian government was reported as saying by Serbian news agency B-92.net.

For its part, Slovenia said it would be realistic about what it can achieve.

"We will work as hard as we can", but "we are very realistic here", Slovenian diplomatic sources told EUobserver.

The European Commission will in November publish its next report assessing the progress made in both the EU candidate and in the potential candidate countries.

Currently the three EU candidates are Turkey, Croatia and Macedonia – but negotiations with Skopje have not yet been launched.

The remaining Western Balkan countries – Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania - are potential candidates and are all hoping to be part of the EU club one day.

Opinion

EU's Kosovo meddling risks Balkans chaos

The EU and the US are is unfairly pressuring Kosovo to ratify a border deal with Montenegro against the will of the opposition. It could bring trouble to the Western Balkans region.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. HuaweiMaking cities smarter and safer
  2. GoogleHow Google Makes Connections More Secure For Users
  3. EGBAThe EU Court of Justice Confirms the Application of Proportionality in Assessing Gambling Laws
  4. World VisionThe EU and Member States Must Not Use Overseas Aid for Promoting EU Interests
  5. Dialogue PlatformInterview: "There is a witch hunt against the Gulen Movement in Turkey"
  6. ACCAACCA Calls for ‘Future Looking’ Integrated Reporting Culture With IIRC and IAAER
  7. EURidNominate Your Favourite .eu or .ею Website for the .EU Web Awards 2016 Today!
  8. Dialogue PlatformAn Interview on Gulen Movement & Recent Coup Attempt in Turkey
  9. GoogleA Little Bird Told us to Start Tweeting About Google’s Work Across Europe. Learn More @GoogleBrussels
  10. Counter BalanceThe Trans Adriatic Pipeline: An Opportunity or a Scam in the Making for Albania?
  11. Counter BalanceThe Investment Plan for Europe: Business as Usual or True Innovation ?
  12. Belgrade Security ForumMigration, Security and Solidarity within Global Disorder: Academic Event 2016