Stability of Western Balkans requires stronger EU dedication: Serbian president

Source: Xinhua| 2018-10-18 21:45:08|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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BELGRADE, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) has the responsibility to propose a strong and realistic perspective to Western Balkans and stick to its integration promises, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said here on Thursday.

Vucic made this statement at the opening of the 8th Belgrade Security Forum, stressing people's disappointment and willingness towards enlargement as biggest threats to future stability in the region.

Speaking at the annual forum's opening panel under the topic "Western Balkans and the EU", together with Austrian President Alexander Van Der Bellen, Vucic stood up for greater dedication from the part of the European Union to regional matters and a clear integration perspective.

Referring to the recent referendum in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Vucic said that something "great and significant" should be done to keep spirits up and prevent people's disappointment in the enlargement process, suggesting that EU shares the responsibility for maintaining stability in the Western Balkans.

"I will dare to say that we need to have a stronger role of the European Union (EU) in the region, otherwise, the EU will not be that kind of dream, democracy and freedom that we looked up upon so far," he said.

He estimated that the offer to the FYROM people presented at a recent referendum -- to accept membership in EU and NATO and change name to "Republic of North Macedonia" as agreed with Greece -- was not as attractive as predicted by the EU.

FYROM is currently the official name of Macedonia at the United Nations.

"A cake was offered to them (FYROM people) -- you will be a part of NATO and open EU negotiations, but people said: we have been listening to these stories for 10-12 years, and what has so far happened in the region -- nothing," he criticized, implying that people of the whole region need something concrete that will reflect on their living standard, while EU should offer something strong and realistic for the future of the people of the region and stick to those promises.

"The offer must be much more concrete. It has to be a reliable promise which requires fulfillment. If one says: meet the conditions and you will become EU members, this promise needs to be kept," he said.

Vucic concluded that Serbia will continue to do all in its powers to maintain and sustain peace and stability in the region, build good relations with all neighboring countries, and will stay firmly dedicated to its EU path.

Van der Bellen said that after years of "enlargement fatigue" he sees new enthusiasm, but that foundations of the EU should be integrated in a society before the accession.

"Bilateral problems, border problems and internal and regional reconciliation must be achieved before the full membership. This is the reason why countries that strive towards EU have a lot to do, and I hope that the EU can still be a vision and example of these reforms," he said, pointing out that not only Western Balkans needs reforms, but the EU too.

Van der Bellen pointed out that the EU has many internal problems and upcoming tasks, singling out the establishment of a "foreign policy that will be more seriously accepted in the world, which has not been the case so far".

This year's Belgrade Security Forum takes place from October 17 to 19 under the overarching topic "Finding Answers together to the New Normal", and it traditionally includes notable speakers from non-government sector, international organizations, officials of region and other countries, academics and ambassadors.