The six Western Balkan states have no other future but in Europe, but they must strengthen cooperation and stabilise relations, including the creation of a common market, their prime ministers agreed in Sarajevo on Thursday.
Prime ministers Aleksandar Vucic of Serbia, Dusko Markovic of Montenegro, Emil Dimitrev of Macedonia, Isa Mustafa of Kosovo and Edi Rama of Albania and their host, Bosnian Council of Ministers Chairman Denis Zvizdic, talked about regional cooperation and projects of the economic, transport and energy connectivity of the states in the region.
“One of the focuses was on keeping peace and stability in the region,” Zvizdic told reporters after the summit.
European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn, who also attended, said the Sarajevo summit showed the progress achieved in the region. Many believe there is no progress and that one is only going backwards, but I think things are moving in the opposite direction, he added.
Hahn said a common market and removal of obstacles to trade were very important ideas. He confirmed that there was willingness within the EU to strongly support the entire region to draw closer to the Union.Zvizdic said the prime ministers talked about the establishment of a single market, faster flow of people, goods and capital, removal of customs obstacles, connecting business people, and optimising resources to create a single market of 20 million inhabitants.
He said they also talked about political problems. “We didn’t want to hide that under the carpet, but we are all oriented towards creating an environment of cooperation, understanding and respect.”
All prime ministers were supposed to speak at a joint press conference, but after Zvizdic and Hahn, Vucic only said that Zvizdic “said everything” and the other prime ministers did not make statements.
The summit was also attended by Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfan, whose country should host a Berlin Process summit in Trieste in July which will address the implementation and financing of projects proposed by Western Balkan countries.
The Berlin Process is a diplomatic initiative launched in 2014 to improve the transport, energy and economic connectivity of Western Balkan states as part of reforms expected to result in their EU accession.