Saturday

22nd Jul 2017

EU 'perspective' for 'fragile' Western Balkans

  • Belgrade: nationalist train stunt came in run-up to (Photo: Milos Milosevic)

EU leaders aim to pledge “unequivocal support for the European perspective” of the Western Balkans at Thursday's summit.

A draft of the meeting's conclusions, seen by EUobserver, also said that they aimed to discuss the “fragile situation” in the region at their dinner in Brussels.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  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.

  • Mogherini said on Monday that Western Balkans risked becoming a geopolitical "chessboard" (Photo: Wolfgang Klotz/Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung)

It said “the EU remains committed to the region and engaged at all levels, to support stability and to deepen political and economic ties”.

It also urged the six Western Balkan states to pursue reforms and to keep “good neighbourly relations”.

An EU diplomat said the statement was designed to send a double message to Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia.

On one hand, to reassure them of their “EU prospect”, but on the other hand to warn them to curb nationalist rhetoric, anti-democratic abuses, corruption, and trafficking.

“Don’t think that the EU prospect gives you rights if you do nothing”, the diplomat said.

The summit statement will add little to the EU’s previous and more binding promises of future accession to Albania and to the former Yugoslavian states.

But leaders wanted to draw attention to the region due to a recent flare-up in ethnic and nationalist tensions.

Ethnic Albanians and Macedonians have brought Macedonia to a standstill in a political crisis. Kosovo and Serbia recently threatened to use force in a dispute over a Serb train painted with nationalist slogans.

EU states are increasingly concerned by assertive Russian, Turkish, and Gulf Arab state behaviour in the region on top of its internal problems.

“There is a growing understanding that bad things are happening there. External factors from the east make things bad,” an EU diplomat said.

Russia is believed to have played a role in a failed anti-Nato coup in Montenegro last year and to be playing a "destabilising" role in Balkan politics more broadly.

Some EU diplomats also saw its hand in the nationalist and pro-Russian heckling of EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini at her speech last week in the Serbian parliament.

Turkey is trying to gain political influence in the region.

Arab states are trying spread a hardline vision of Islam in some Balkan Muslim societies, which have sent relatively high numbers of foreign fighters to Iraq and Syria.

Neither Russia, Turkey, nor Arab states were named in the draft EU summit conclusions as of Wednesday evening, however.

One of the EU diplomats said the EU needed to send a “political signal” to “stabilise” the Balkans region.

But EU leaders do not plan to have a substantial discussion on the Western Balkan enlargement progress on Thursday despite their declaration of “unequivocal support”.

Another senior EU diplomat said that EU credibility in the region was falling due to inertia in the accession process.

“The Union was not able to send credible messages to this region, enlargement negotiations are slow. It’s discouraging,” he said.

Serb minister love-bombs EU

The EU and Serbia have moved a step closer despite regional tensions, with a Serb minister calling the EU "the best place in the world".

German-Turkish tensions rise over cancelled campaign events

Two German towns cancelled campaign events by Turkish ministers to rally support for Erdogan's consitutional reform amid escalating tensions between the two countries over the detention of a prominent German-Turkish journalist.

Investigation

Few, but fanatics: The Kosovo women who join IS

In a generational shift in Kosovo, a largely secular and pro-Western society, Islamic radicalisation is making inroads. And it’s not just young men who join Islamic State.

Juncker: Death penalty will end Turkey's EU bid

Turkish president Erdogan said he would reinstate capital punishment, for people behind last year's failed military coup. But European Commission president Juncker says the move would end Turkey's bid to join the EU.

Cyprus talks up in the air

A week after the failure of negotiations to reunite the islands, Greek Cypriots are calling on Turkish Cypriots to reaffirm their commitment to the process.

News in Brief

  1. Polish parliament adopts controversial justice reform
  2. GMO opt-out plan unlikely to go anywhere in 2017
  3. Slovak PM threatens to boycott inferior food
  4. France takes Google's 'right to be forgotten' to EU court
  5. Turkey accuses German companies of supporting terror
  6. Israel's Netanyahu caught calling EU 'crazy'
  7. UK does not collect enough data to expel EU nationals
  8. Polish president threatens to veto justice reform

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  2. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  3. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  4. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  5. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  6. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  9. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  10. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  12. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School

Latest News

  1. Dutch coalition talks lengthiest in 40 years
  2. Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU
  3. EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions
  4. Law expert: direct EU powers have become too complicated
  5. Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive
  6. Mafia money pollutes the EU economy
  7. Central Europe should be wary of Brexit stopping
  8. Poland's 'July coup' and what it means for the judiciary