The accession, last July, of Croatia as the 28th member of EU has marked another important milestone in the process of EU integration.
It has been reaffirmed that the reunification of Europe is not yet finished.
It has been, also, confirmed that Western Balkans are already part of Europe.
This has political consequences, in times where citizens in the Region, are for some years exempted from visa requirements, and all the States are moving resolutely towards the status of candidate or, in the case of Serbia, or Montenegro, or Macedonia, rightly to the starting of negotiations for the accession.
It is true that a certain feeling of “enlargement fatigue” is spreading in Europe.
The economic crisis impact, some unfortunate good electoral results of xenophobic and Euro-skeptical parties, domestic political dynamics in some Member States: all this factors led to mounting scepticism and tendency to break any attempt to speed up procedures and political process to get soon W.B. Countries into the EU family.
I would try to reverse these arguments.
Exactly because of the crisis, and the risks of a mounting Euro-skepticism, we need EU political leadership advocating for more open and integrated European Union.
I’m a partisan of the United States of Europe: I think of a political union, not limiting itself to the – essential anyway – monetary or banking union, but extending its role to foreign and security policy or the promotion and protection of fundamental rights everywhere.
If so, I think the EU integration process will be finished only when all WB Countries will be full members.
1) Because of historical reasons. These countries, and their citizens, are Europeans from centuries. I shouldn’t remember here in Belgrade, that Roman Emperor Costantine the Great, hero of Christianity, was born in Niš!
2) Because of a strategic interest for EU as a whole. EU cannot afford leaving a fragile and unstable, frustrated “enclave” of countries surrounded from East and West by EU members! The success story of Balkans’ stabilization after the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the tragic war at the end of 90’s has been constantly marked by EU presence, EU encouragement, EU perspective. I was present, as Italian Foreign Minister, at the 2003 Saloniki Summit, where the EU irreversible perspective of WB has been decided. That decision, after some great success like Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania, is still, even more, valid.
Friends of EU integration, in WB political leaderships, have to be helped to succeed.
Reforms have to be implemented and a vision for the EU future to be consolidated.
But this is not for the sake of Brussels. This is for the good of the citizens of these countries!
It is not a gift given to you, it is, it should be, a political visionary strategy.
3) I strongly hope that the babies born in 2020, in many of your countries, will have a European passport! EU would be much stronger, if open and united in this region.
4) Looking at the next 10 years, I see for W.B. a key European role on complementing Euro-Med security, prosperity and stabilityEU strategies and policies. I see also a new, open, Eastern – projected market, as a bridge to rich and attractive commercial Asian regions, particularly important for European companies and exporters.
WB will be, also, a crossroad for Trans- European infrastructures, including energy infrastructures, improving EU capacities to connect with the rest of the world, through North – South and East – West new axis.
But I see, even more important, the reunification to the historical home of millions of people having different traditions and religions, but sharing our common values and principles on the centrality of human being and his fundamental rights.
So, EU needs enriching through your contributions, as much as you, our brothers of WB need coming back to the place that the history assigned for you.
Meetings and moments in Belgrade