Saturday

20th Jan 2018

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

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.

Montenegro hopes to apply for EU membership next year

Montenegro has signed a Stabilisation and Association Agreement, the first formal step on the path to the European Union, and is hoping to officially apply for membership of the bloc next year.

News in Brief

  1. Germany confirms attendance at air quality summit
  2. Nearly half of 'fixed' Dieselgate cars show problems
  3. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook up hate speech deletion
  4. UK mulls bridge to France
  5. German far-right float anti-asylum bill
  6. EU Parliament to investigate glyphosate-decision process
  7. 'Mutagenesis' falls outside EU's GMO rules, says EU top lawyer
  8. Decision on Polish MEP's Nazi-era slur postponed

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on the agenda This WEEK
  2. Instagram and Google Plus join EU anti-hate speech drive
  3. EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems
  4. UK loses EU satellite centre to Spain
  5. Pay into EU budget for market access, Macron tells May
  6. Ethiopian regime to get EU migrants' names
  7. EU to lend Greece up to €7bn more next week
  8. Nato prepares to take in Macedonia