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González-Barba Pera: Sending a positive signal to the Western Balkans is a matter of urgency

November 19 2021 | Madrid

González-Barba Pera: Sending a positive signal to the Western Balkans is a matter of urgency

“We think that now the European Union has to give a very strong signal, positive signal that we want these candidate countries within our family as soon as possible”, Juan González-Barba Pera, the State Secretary for the European Union at the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has conveyed today.

At the conference ‘The European Union’s next enlargement: Prospects and pitfalls’, which has been held in Madrid today and attended by Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović, the State Secretary has stressed that it is necessary to open clusters 3 and 4 in the case of Serbia as a matter of urgency, and that in the case of North Macedonia and Albania, negotiations should start as soon as possible.

González-Barba Pera has said that today’s conference is a very special event, organised by the Slovenian presidency in cooperation with two leading think tanks – the Elcano Royal Institute and Bled Strategic Forum, adding that the conference is a sort of a collective effort and recognition of the importance Spain is giving to bilateral cooperation with the Western Balkans and the importance in the context of the European Union.

He has explained that this attitude stems from the fact that Spain believes in a strong Europe and that everyone will have something to gain from it.

“It’s obvious that all those countries, when they advance in the negotiating process and they join the European Union, they will reap the many benefits that joining the European Union brings for everyone, but that will also include everyone else in Europe. We will have benefits, too. We in Spain felt it in the previous EU enlargement waves”, noted González-Barba Pera.

Gašper Dovžan, State Secretary at the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has said that what everyone needs to be aware of is that enlargement is the key strategic matter for Europe, which was envisaged a long time ago, not at the 2003 Thessaloniki European Council summit, but even earlier, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, when people got the promise and the chance for a united Europe.

He has said that the EU will only be halfway through in this endeavour until the Western Balkans is not just surrounded by Member States but becomes part of the European Union.

Dovžan has stressed that everyone knows that, for Slovenian presidency, there is no substitute for enlargement and that they truly believe that enlargement has transformational power and that it is a policy that can really bring about change and improvement in the economic, social and security context.

Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović has stated today that Spain will support the opening of two clusters within Serbia’s European integration process, assessing that the topic of EU enlargement is becoming more important in the EU itself despite various challenges and stagnation that more or less everyone in the region feels.

According to her, this has also been confirmed by today’s conference in Madrid, which she believes is an extremely important format where she could present everything that Serbia has done, what she expects in the upcoming period and what she sees as potential challenges not only for Serbia and the enlargement process, but also for the entire Western Balkans.

“For us and for our citizens, Spain is undoubtedly one of the greatest friends in the European Union, we have excellent bilateral relations and that is a country which has been consistent in its principled policy both towards enlargement and towards Serbia”, says Joksimović.

As the key message from today’s meeting, particularly the bilateral meeting she has had with Juan González-Barba Pera, the State Secretary for the European Union, Joksimović highlights the fact that Spain has announced that it will support the opening of both clusters with Serbia: Cluster 3 – Inclusive growth and competitiveness, and Cluster 4 – Green Agenda and sustainable connectivity.

Joksimović participated at the conference, which was organised in coordination with the Slovenian EU presidency in Madrid, at the invitation of Charles Powell, the Director of the Elcano Royal Institute.

Source: Tanjug