Majlinda Bregu, general secretary of the regional cooperation council (RCC), intervened in the panel dedicated to the Western Balkans during the 14esimo Strategic Forum in Bled, Slovenia, held on September 3.
"The European Union will always be unfinished without the Western Balkans. The price for a further postponement on the start of official accession negotiations with Albania and Northern Macedonia is, in short, a risk.
Non-opening would mean instability, emigration and non-constructive influence of other geopolitical actors. Any positive moment can easily fall apart if the prospect of membership continues to be disregarded. And nobody has the luxury of wasting time anymore.
People leave the region. A third of the population has left in the last 5 years, and these are the real problems of the region. It is up to us to change and transform our societies. The EU should recognize this bell that sounds like an opportunity."- said the general secretary in Bled, Slovenia.
"With the aim of accelerating cooperation, the governments of the region have committed themselves to implementing a regional economic space, hoping that we would have been more successful. We have succeeded in the digital area, with the regional roaming agreement which is a testament to how things go when political will is involved.
On the other hand, as regards the agreement on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications among the economies of the region, it would not have made sense even if we had approved it since the Kosovars cannot travel to Bosnia without a visa and in the last year the number of visas denied was higher than those granted.
Regional cooperation is not a technical but political process, based on the political will of governments but also of citizens who are supporting the regional cooperation process more than governments. People trust that it will work better with their neighbors. But to make it happen, we all need to take the same vision. - he then went on to Majlinda Bregu.
The Western Balkans panel
The panel on the Western Balkans also involved the Foreign Minister of Finland, Pekka Haavisto, and the foreign ministers of the region: Igor Crnadak (Bosnia), Ivica Dacic (Serbia), Srdjan Darmanovic (Montenegro), Nikola Dimitrov (Macedonia of the North), Behgjet Pacolli (Kosovo), as well as the new special representative for the Western Balkans, Matthew Palmer, and the Hungarian foreign minister, Peter Szijjarto.
The expert group has discussed various issues relating to EU-Western Balkans relations, such as the region's willingness to implement the necessary reforms, but also if the EU is ready to help restore the promise of a better tomorrow for the region.