“Croatia’s membership sends a signal to the other countries of the Western Balkans that the European Union provides a unique framework for democracy and economic stability open to everyone”, said Gunnar Hökmark MEP, Vice-Chairman of the EPP Group in the EP.
‘Balkans – Moving Towards European Integration’ was the title of a conference organised by the EPP Group in the European Parliament today. The EPP Group showed its commitment towards the region of South East Europe and proved that it is a strong supporter of the European integration process in the Balkans.
The keynote speakers at the conference were Sali Berisha, Prime Minister of Albania, Nikola Poposki, Foreign Minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Skënder Hyseni, former Foreign Minister of Kosovo, István Pásztor, Leader of the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians in Serbia, and Andrej Plenković in his new capacity as a Croatian observer in the European Parliament. The speakers on the European Parliament side included Joseph Daul MEP, Chairman of the EPP Group, Gunnar Hökmark MEP, Chairman of the Delegation to the EU-Croatia Joint Parliamentary Committee, Elmar Brok MEP, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the EP, and Eduard Kukan MEP, Chairman of the EP Delegation for Relations with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo.
In his opening speech, Chairman Joseph Daul MEP said: “After the Second World War, our founding fathers found reconciliation in building a common European home. After the collapse of Communism, Central Europe found reconciliation through reunification. After the end of the Balkan wars, reconciliation may be found through jointly entering the EU. The EPP Group has always been a supporter of enlargement because we believe that real stability comes through democracy and prosperity, and that the EU is the best guarantor of this.”
Prime Minister Berisha presented the reforms his country has made in recent years in the field of combating corruption and highlighted the economic development. Nikola Poposki, Macedonian Foreign Minister, talked about the benefits of regional cooperation and underlined that his country has done a lot and is now awaiting answers from the EU. According to him, the EU integration process is irreversible and shared by all countries of the region.
“This year is a year of opportunities for countries of the Western Balkans. The integration agenda is clear, yet much will depend on the political leaders how they cope with it. I would be very happy to see all countries of the region firmly grasp these opportunities and move a step closer to the Union”, said Eduard Kukan MEP, former Foreign Minister of Slovakia and the Chair of the Parliament’s delegation to the region.