Balkan leaders gather in Tirana under Brdo-Brijuni summit

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times May 10, 2019 12:01

Balkan leaders gather in Tirana under Brdo-Brijuni summit

Story Highlights

  • The Western Balkan leaders approved a joint statement addressed to the European Commission, demanding that the region's membership remain on the EU agenda, as its European perspective is considered important not only for the stability of the region but also the European Union itself.

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TIRANA, May 9 – The Heads of states of the Balkan countries me in Tirana on Wednesday and Thursday, in the framework of the Brdo-Brijuni process, an initiative undertaken since 2013 by Croatia and Slovenia to promote the rapprochement of the region with the European Union.

Croatia’s President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and President Borut Pahor, along with Albanian President Ilir Meta were the meeting’s hosts.

In addition to the leaders of the Balkan countries, the European Union’s High Representative Federica Mogherini and Polish President Andrzej Duda also attended the summit.

The Western Balkan leaders approved a joint statement addressed to the European Commission, demanding that the region’s membership remain on the EU agenda, as its European perspective is considered important not only for the stability of the region but also the European Union itself.

Meanwhile, after Thursday’s meeting, Meta said they discussed the creation of an attractive investment space in the region.

The participants praised the Prespa agreement and stressed the implementation of all the agreements reached by the parties, while engaged in peace and stability in the region.

Polish President Andrzej Duda said the discussions focused on sustainability in this part of Europe, which is trying to join the EU. According to him, stability will bring about the disappearance of the problems.

“All these issues need to be resolved on the road to the EU here in the Western Balkans. It is an important task of the EU to support the dialogue here,” Duda said.

Croatian President Kitarovic said this part of Europe should draw the EU’s attention.

“When I talk to colleagues in Europe, there is a lack of interest in this region, apart from the lack of understanding. This part of Europe should become part of European interest. The EU is incomplete, and these countries must be involved in it,” she said.

Mogherini: “Albania on track, Kosovo should remove tariffs on Serbian goods”

On Wednesday afternoon, Mogherini said during her statement for the media that Albania deserves the opening of membership talks.

Mogherini had a meeting with Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and was also expected to talk to Serbian President Aleksander Vucic, who also attended the summit.

She said, however, she did not see room for resuming dialogue due to the decision of the Kosovo government to impose tariffs on imported goods from Serbia and Bosnia, pointing out that “no one benefits from this cramp.”

During a press conference with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, Mogherini praised the steps made by Albania over a year, since the European Commission recommended in 2018 the opening of accession talks with Albania and although member states postponed their decision for this year’s June.

At the end of this month, the European Commission will publish the progress report.

“We expect only one reply from the European Commission, the answer is that we have completely done our homework and deserve the opening of the accession negotiations,” said Prime Minister Edi Rama, adding that “we are aware that in the end of the day the judgment and the final decision on the Commission’s recommendation will depend on the specific circumstances in the member countries themselves.”

According to last year’s decision, member states should take a decision next month, but the issue will likely  be postponed due to the short time between the Commission’s report publication and the European Council’s meeting.

Concerning the opposition’s decision to give up its mandates and resign from parliament, Mogherini said that it should not turn its back to democratic processes and responsibilities.

On his part, Rama stressed that “the elections will be held on June 30.”

Responding to the question of journalists, Mogherini once again said regarding the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue that “the Kosovo government’s decision on tariffs for goods from Serbia and Bosnia has created an environment that is not fruitful for dialogue.”

Before meeting with Mogherini, Thaçi met with Rama.

In a Facebook post, Thaçi wrota that “among other things, we talked about the necessity of the opening of the Kosovo-Albania border and the creation of an Albanian land without borders, under the Euro-Atlantic umbrella.”

Serbian President’s visit causes protests in Tirana

Upon reports surfacing that Vucic will be visiting Tirana under the Brdo-Brijuni summit, the Kosovo political party Vetevendosje, mainly supporting an Albanian nationalist agenda and which was registered in Tirana also in the beginning of May, gave its first public statement on Sunday, regarding Vucic visit and its opposal to it.

In its statement, Vetevendosje said that the Serbian and Republic of Srpska presidents have held anti-Albanian stands as regional leaders and even warned of protests.

“If Vucic was invited and will be visiting Albania, with or without the brother of his extremist policies, Dodic, then civil reaction will be inevitable,” Vetevendosje wrote.

On a similar note spoke former Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati, who said that Albania should keep its ground regarding the border exchange issue between Albania and Serbia.

However, after the Berlin summit which took place last week and was headed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, it was highlighted that the idea of territorial exchange between Serbia and Kosovo will no longer be part of the EU-mediated talks between the two countries.

Vucic first visited Tirana in May 2015, making him the first Serbian president to ever visit the country, under the leadership of Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama, where he conducted meetings with all Albanian political representatives and took part in the Tirana Talks 2015 forum.

The Brdo-Brijuni summit, on the other hand, has aimed to serve as a high-level political forum to incite dialogue, cooperation, strengthening of safety and stability and support the euro-atlantic aspirations of the region’s countries.

Few hundreds gathered to support Vetevendosje call for peaceful protest as the summit was taking place, while the political subject declared the police had reacted violently towards the protesters with orders from above, most probably.

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times May 10, 2019 12:01