High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said that the Balkans is one of the priorities of the EU.
“Some say it is the backyard. It is not the backyard: it is Europe. And every time I hear people saying to our friends in the Balkans, ‘your way towards Europe’, I get very angry, because it is Europe already and we see it very clearly when it comes to security challenges, when it comes to the migratory routes, when it comes to economic investments and many other things,” Mogherini said at the opening of the EU ambassadors’ Conference.
“This year we have seen in the Balkans tensions arising worryingly in different moments, in different countries. We had some moments of crisis, acute crisis, but at the end of the day our partners in the Balkans have always, always managed to recommit and to reconfirm their willingness and their capacity to advance on the European Union way, on their path towards the European Union – always, we have helped and they have done it. Why? Because I believe their population, their young population, is asking their own leaderships for this and the leadership knows this very well. It might be difficult, it might be challenging, it might be painful from time to time to work on reconciliation and good neighbourly relations, but at the end of the day if this is what your people ask from you, this is what you have to deliver.
And we are there to make it possible for them to deliver on this. This week I will meet again with President [of Serbia, Aleksandar]Vučić and President [of Kosovo, Hashim]Thaci to move forward with the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. And I think we can set as our own goal, by the end of this mandate, to see substantive steps forward for each of our Balkan partners on their path towards European Union membership. I have said it in the region. Sometimes it is easier to say it in the region than in the European Union. We will have work to do both inside and outside of our Union, but I think this is a realistic – and for sure ambitious – but a realistic and a possible and very much needed objective for our work in the year ahead,” Mogherini told the ambassadors of the EU member countries.
Read Mogherini’s full speech here