Balkan leaders in Eastern Europe summit to request EU funds

Prime Ministers from six Balkan countries urge Europe to increase funds and decrease number of seminars

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Prime Ministers from six Eastern Europe countries including Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Albania have gathered in Albanian city of Tirana took take part the Vienna Economic Forum meetings before a fundraising conference in Vienna in August.

All of the leaders said that their countries will work towards EU membership and that in return the EU should continue providing them with funds.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said that “we need some money from the EU funds, and then you will see the smiles on our faces.”

"Finally we agreed on two important issues - a common goal for all of us, and that is the European path, and about the full membership in the EU. It cannot be expected ​​tomorrow, there are plenty of things to do before it happens,” Vucic added.

“We are fed up with seminars. If we can't get EU's help and support, we must try and do as much as we can alone together," Vucic added.

Albanian Prime Mİnister Edi Rama stressed the same issue saying the Balkan leaders needed progress instead of “more group photos.”

"We do not want to allow patience fatigue [over EU entry] to become the enemy. We have to ... see some concrete results," Rama added.

“Now is the time for a clear commitment from the European Union to help develop the Balkans as a region jointly like never before."

Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said that “the European Union could, and I believe in the future can, be more focused and can help to resolve on those issues [accession procedures], because postponing and postponing is not a solution. It’s just creating problems; it’s creating new issues; it’s creating uncertainties; and it is a real damage for us [Macedonia] and for the region too.”

The forum moderator and former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer who participated to the summit said that all the leaders of Balkan region made reasonable demands.

“If you want to have regional cooperation you need connectivity, streets, railways. It is important that this is understood by Brussels," Fischer said.

On the path to the EU

Slovenia and Croatia are the only two EU member countries in the Balkan region. Montenegro has been actively negotiating its membership process with the EU.

Macedonia, Serbia and Albania are official candidates. Macedonia has been in political  turmoil lately over wiretap allegations surrounding Prime Minister Gruevski, coup allegations against the country’s opposition leader and alleged attacks by ethnic Albanians at the Kumanovo border.

The EU path for Serbia has been turbulent due to its conflict with Kosovo. Although Serbian Prime Minister shook hands with Kosovo Prime Mİnister Isa Mustafa in the Vienna Economic Forum, Vucic stated that Serbia does not yet recognise Kosovo’s sovereignty.

German Ambassador in Belgrade, Heinz Wilhelm, said that the EU membership process of Serbia is dependent on its official recognition of Kosovo.

Kosovo separated from Serbia following the turmoil caused during the fall of former Yugoslavia and became independent in 2008. Since then, Serbia has officially refused to recognise Kosovo.

TRTWorld and agencies