Continuation of strong support for European integration of Western Balkans

  • Slika
Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlić Radman on Monday attended a meeting of EU foreign ministers of the “Friends of the Western Balkans” group, together with foreign ministers of the Western Balkan countries.
Grlić Radman underlined the importance of Croatia’s initiative, which has resulted in a letter sent to High Representative Josep Borrell in early October 2023. In the letter, the foreign ministers of the “Friends of the Western Balkans” group expressed their support for the opening of accession talks with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“It is important to point out that enlargement is again on the EU agenda and it is being discussed at the highest level. There is a strong political commitment of the EU leaders to the Western Balkans’ membership prospects,” Grlić Radman said. He added that the EU was the largest trading and investment partner of the Western Balkans, with year-end trade figures reaching record highs, which underscores the importance of economic integration for the EU-Western Balkans relations in general.
“The Western Balkans is the largest recipient of Croatia’s development aid. Our manifold approach to supporting the development of the Western Balkans through infrastructural, health, educational and cultural projects, with a special focus on the overall socioeconomic development, including digital and green transition, is our main priority in the area of ​​ cooperation development and humanitarian aid,” Grlić Radman said.
The current geopolitical context has highlighted the importance of security and stability in the Western Balkans, where a slew of unresolved issues could escalate at any moment. “In that regard, it is vital to normalize Serbia-Kosovo relations and make headway in talks, which should lead to a final appreciation of political reality. For Croatia, the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is crucial, where a fair election law has to bring about long-term political stability and functioning - in other words, regulate the political rights and relations among the country’s constituent peoples and other citizens as envisioned by the Washington and Dayton agreements,” the minister underscored.
The foreign ministers of Croatia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Slovakia, Italy, and Slovenia adopted the Göttweig Declaration on 26 June 2023, which strongly supports EU enlargement to the Western Balkans and calls for speeding up the process. On Croatia’s initiative, the foreign ministers of the “Friends of the Western Balkans” group sent a letter to High Representative Borrell in early October 2023, underscoring support for the opening of accession talks with BiH.

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