9 July 2019 The address of the President of the Republic, H. E. Ilir Meta at the SEECP Summit
Sarajevo, July 9th, 2019
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I wish to start out by thanking Bosnia and Herzegovina for hosting this summit and for its contribution to the SEECP, as the Chair for the last 12 months.
On this occasion, let me congratulate Kosova on the assumption of its Chairmanship, and wish them every success during their tenure in office. I am confident that Kosovo in close cooperation with the SEECP Troika will continue to pay attention to the EU enlargement process, the strengthening of political dialogue and the improvement of overall security situation in the region.
The Western Balkans has gone through a very long way in building democratic institutions and multiethnic societies founded on the principles of the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Thanks to NATO’s enlargement and the EU integration, the region remains firmly anchored to the most successful security architecture Europe has ever known.
It is safe to say that never before has the region been more stable and secure. Take the recent entry into force of the agreement between Skopje and Athens. By bringing to an end a long and intractable bilateral dispute, the agreement marks a major step forward in further advancing regional peace and stability. This is great news indeed.
However, a number of bilateral and regional challenges remain in the way to the ongoing regional and EU integration. It is in this view that I would like to express all my regret that the Republic of Kosova, our future Chair, has been forced not to participate in this Summit. How can we pretend to have efficient cooperation while some of the participants in this for a do their utmost to exclude and entire people and neighboring country from benefiting by international cooperation and regional projects in the important areas such as security, education, culture, etc. Good neighborly relations and reciprocal respect are crucial to the effective regional cooperation, to the security and economic prosperity of all of us. Therefore, it is right time now that Bosnia and Hercegovina, that should have made all the efforts to guarantee the participation of Kosova in this Summit, but also every other country, to move forward in recognizing this reality. Republic of Kosova is an independent and sovereign country and should be treated with respect, first and foremost by its neighbors.
Progress in the EU integration process of all Western Balkan countries is of the essence. While it is true that the EU enlargement process has become much more challenging due to a number of concurrent political reasons, one should admit that the current approach based on strict conditionality remains a fair one. We should welcome this approach as an opportunity to further transform our countries and move closer to the EU.
Albania is aware that there is still hard work to do to meet the needed criteria and standards. We have to deliver tangible results, focusing on reforms that strengthen state institutions, the rule of law and the fight against corruption and organized crime.
We remain committed and hopeful that October EU Council will decide to open accession negotiations for Albania and for neighboring North Macedonia. We are grateful to the Chancellor Merkel’s vision, reiterated also in the last Summit in Poznan, that presenting Balkan states with the opportunity to join the EU is in the bloc’s strategic interest.
Enhancing economic cooperation among SEECP Participants as well as between the SEECP economies and the EU is of utmost importance for the economic growth, sustainable development and prosperity of the citizens of South East Europe.
The Berlin Process has managed to produce a vibrant dynamic in the European integration process of the WB6, focusing on the connectivity agenda, economic cooperation and human exchanges. We are confident that these components, reinforced by EU leaders in Poznan, are in the core of the EU accession route and will serve as impetus to a long-lasting peace and stability in the Western Balkans.
Albania and other Western Balkans countries have endorsed the Declaration for the Western Balkan Digital Agenda at the Sofia Summit, which shaped the regional agenda in many areas, in particular those related to roaming, digital transformation of WB6 and e-Government. Albania welcomes the signing of the regional Roaming agreement in the Digital Summit in Belgrade, last April and the entry into force of the agreement this July.
The exodus of a large number of educated and skilled young people, poses a potential threat to the stability of our countries. This phenomenon is not perceived as only temporary, and it has to be addressed by every Government, but also jointly by all relevant stakeholders in the Region.
Enhancing the economic cooperation and emphasizing the European perspective provides a positive impetus for youth to unleash its potential in fostering reconciliation in the region and building prosperous societies. As the host country of Regional Youth Cooperation Office and Western Balkan Fund, Albania is encouraging these new initiatives to become the best examples in promoting cooperation between the youth in the region through exchange programs and activities.
Through its operational instrument RCC, the SEECP has been actively and successfully involved in these processes. We must recognize the RCC important contribution to support development in our area, its efforts to bring about ideas and implement projects in favor of an enhanced regional cooperation.
We are glad and proud of an Albanian chairing successfully the RCC, inspired by such a beautiful city as Sarajevo.
Thank you for the attention!