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J. Joksimović: Affirmative political messages to the Western Balkans; economic package in autumn

April 30 2020 | Belgrade

J. Joksimović: Affirmative political messages to the Western Balkans; economic package in autumn

Until almost two months ago, the European Union Summit in Zagreb, which will be held on 6 May in the form of a video-conference, was regularly planned as one of the most important political and economic events during the Croatian EU Council presidency. One of its crucial components was supposed to be the Summit of leaders from the EU and the so-called Western Balkans. Leaders from the EU and the region were planned to gather in person for the first time since the Sofia Summit held on 17 May 2018. The event was in a way supposed to be a turning point in organising regular meetings between EU leaders and leaders from the region, as it comes at the beginning of the new institutional mandate of the European Commission. It was also intended to confirm the EU’s engagement towards the region and affirm a credible enlargement policy through somewhat altered negotiation methodology. Most importantly, a long-announced comprehensive programme of economic incentives for candidate countries in the accession process was planned to be presented at the event.

Having explained how the summit in Zagreb was supposed to be organised, Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović has stressed in her statement for Politika that the summit’s goals suddenly became dependent on the effects of the pandemic, as was entirely expected. She has added that, therefore, she believes that unfortunately, the summit will not be able to completely achieve ambitiously projected goals.

“Nonetheless, the summit will send certain messages and certain decisions that will have the necessary credibility will be adopted at the summit’s video-conference. The declaration or the ‘communication’ to be adopted as the main political document, will certainly be void of a clear narrative, both in terms of the long-awaited EC programme of economic incentives and other decisions and conclusions important for the region, which will be postponed for autumn,” stated the Minister.

Speaking for Politika about the expectations for the video-summit in Zagreb, the Minister has said that the EU will particularly underline its commitment to the Western Balkan region and reiterate its position as the most significant investor and donor in the region.

“This is why the absence and delay of the long-announced economic and investment package for autumn this year is a serious drawback for the full effect of the summit. Therefore, I expect that, in the absence of concrete economic decisions, the Zagreb summit will offer more political messages which should primarily affirm the region’s European perspective”, emphasised Joksimović.

She has added that, for Serbia, the summit will be an opportunity to reaffirm its commitment and progress on the path of European integration, to express recognition of the support the EU has provided in the previous years to help the implementation of demanding political, economic and institutional reforms, and the significant support received after the 2014 floods and during the current pandemic.

“What is more, the summit is an opportunity to discuss, in a partnership-like and open manner, certain shortages in communication between the EU and the Western Balkans, so that, constructively and in good faith, we would remove future doubts and strengthen our substantive partnership”, stressed Minister Joksimović, adding that this will be an excellent opportunity to consider a future way in which together the countries can overcome socio-economic effects of the coronavirus spread that remains a global threat.

Source: Politika