Borrell’s visit to the Balkans: it is high time to relaunch the enlargement process
The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, visited the Western Balkans this week against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine. The start of accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania is a high priority for the EU, Borrell stressed during his visit to the two countries. He also visited Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he urged leaders to break the stalemate of the political crisis and advance electoral reform.
When meeting with North Macedonian Prime Minister Dimirar Kovačevski on Monday, Borrell welcomed the new momentum between Sofia and Skopje to reach a mutually acceptable solution.
“It is high time to resolve long-standing bilateral issues and start EU accession negotiations as soon as possible,” he said.
He added that he understood the disappointment that many feel in North Macedonia and reiterated that the start of accession talks between the country and Albania is a high priority for the EU, Website reported.
“We constantly assess that the country is ready to start accession talks and this is not a rhetorical statement, it is a firm assessment and commitment and a declaration of intent,” said the High Representative of the country. EU, Borrell.
On Tuesday, during his meeting with Prime Minister Edi Rama, the High Representative underlined the solidity of relations between the EU and Albania and welcomed the country’s global commitment to safeguarding international security. He stressed that it was high time to relaunch the enlargement process and to integrate Albania and the whole of the Western Balkans irreversibly into the European Union.
“Albania has fulfilled all the conditions for the opening of accession negotiations and I strongly support, work, commit and contribute to the launch of accession negotiations during the French Presidency”, declared the High Representative.
Praise for the alignment of North Macedonia and Albania with the EU
Borrell welcomed North Macedonia’s alignment with all EU declarations and sanctions against Russia with Foreign Minister Osmani and expressed his gratitude for the country’s contribution to EU missions and operations in the Defense Minister Petrovska.
The High Representative also met the Albanian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Olta Xhaçka. Albania is 100% aligned with the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, and the High Representative praised the country’s strong actions to defend the international order as a member of the UN Security Council.
During their meeting, Albani Prime Minister Edi Rama asked Borrell to ensure that the EU includes the Western Balkans in the emergency response plan put in place in anticipation of the impacts of the war in Ukraine. .
“If the EU develops a plan to respond to the impacts of the war in Ukraine, it should not leave out the Western Balkans as it did with vaccines during the pandemic,” Rama said, euro news Albania reported.
Bosnia and Herzegovina: No serious security threat, Althea nevertheless reinforced
During his visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina on Wednesday, Borrell met with opposition and ruling party leaders from both entities, including SDA leaders Bakir Izetbegović, HDZ Dragan Čović and SNSD Milorad Dodik.
According to NezavisneBorrell reportedly asked Dodik to stop the transfer of powers to state-level entities, in order to preserve peace and stability.
Borrell asked Bosnia and Herzegovina to follow EU positions regarding Ukraine, and Dodik said he would do everything to preserve peace, Bakir Izetbegović said after the meeting.
As part of the election process feature, he said the matter had been resolved, but as he said Dodik would probably stop him.
Dodik thanked Borrell for expressing concern over the impasse in BiH.
“It’s not just Republika Srpska, but also the FBiH, which has no government or electoral reforms. Izetbegović, trying to homogenize his policy, pass the ball to me and Republika Srpska,” Dodik said, RTR reported.
Borrell began his visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina at the EUFOR Althea Butmir camp.
“Recently, we decided to deploy EUFOR reserve forces. This means that more than 500 additional employees have recently been integrated into this camp. This is, and should be understood, as a precautionary measure. As we speak, at present there are no serious threats to safety and security in the environment of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he said.
The EU’s commitment to help the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina maintain a safe and secure environment remains unwavering and, in the current situation, even more important. We have doubled the presence of our troops on the ground. pic.twitter.com/5jfLi0STtA
— Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) March 16, 2022
He added that he nevertheless felt that there was a need to increase capabilities, to show that the EU is determined to maintain stability, and to increase the ability to react quickly – in the event of a crisis – with Operation Althea.
“This message of determination and commitment is needed more than ever, given the Russian invasion of Ukraine. With this invasion, war is back on European soil. And we are witnessing extreme human suffering, thousands of lives lost and millions – millions – of refugees fleeing,” Borrell said.
He added that the impact of the war in Ukraine cannot be overstated.
“It will affect our thinking on security, on defense investments, our resilience, our energy supplies and our food security. The shock waves of the Ukrainian war, of the invasion of Ukraine, will disrupt the world economy and create problems that go beyond Ukrainian territory. And that means that the stability and security of the Western Balkans can also be affected, and we see that as more important today – more important than ever,” Borrell said.