Mitrovica Bridge is a symbol of the fractures, the wars and the pain marking the history of the Balkans in the last 25 years. It can now become a symbol of dialogue, reconciliation, hope. I want to tell the story of my trip to the Balkans starting from here, from the visit to Mitrovica, from the bridge I walked together with young people, with local leaders, with the police forces of the Serbian and Kosovar communities. Only a few meters keep these communities apart. The same few meters, today, can bring the two communities together thanks to the European Union. Here is my speech at the bridge.
At each stop during this visit – important, beautiful and difficult at times – I saw the energy and the hope of young men and women, who are and feel fully European. They want their countries to be in the European Union, and they ask policy makers to walk the path towards the EU with coherence and determination. This is what they ask to their governments, their parliaments, and to ourselves too. For this reason the message I carried with me – from Belgrade to Tirana, from Skopje to Sarajevo, from Pristina to Podgorica – was this: the doors of our Union are open, and we want a future where this part of Europe is part fo the European Union. It is not a faraway dream, but a project that can be realised by our generation, in the interest of peace and reconciliation in the region, of our common security, of economi growth in the whole of Europe. In this moment, as we reflect on the future of our Union, we need to keep in mind that one Member State is leaving but others will join in. And more than 70 per cent of these countries’ citizens support the European Union.
Today the region faces political tension, institutional crises, strong difficulties both on social and economic issue, and on the rule of law, the fight against corruption and organised crime. It risks to be turned into a chessboard for the great games of global geopolitics. But when you speak to young people in the Balkans – but also with many policy makers who are trying to strengthen their societies, change their countries and integrate the region – you see that their future will be in the Union, and there is no other source for growth and reconciliation as powerful as the European Union. We are a force for peace, rights, liberty and economic development. And this is what the people of the Balkans want and need.
We are there for them. Because we know this is also our interest. And any other scenario would bring us back to the tragedies of our recent history. This is why I will report the results of my visit and we will talks about the Balkans tomorrow at the Foreign Affairs Council and on Thursday at the European Council with the Heads of State and government.
Here are all the links, country by country, to the videos and the texts of my speeches, my press conferences, and the press releases on my meetings.
Press conference with Prime Minister Duško Marković
FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA
Press conference with Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic
Press conference with prime Minister Edi Rama
Press conference with Prime Minister Isa Mustafa
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
Press conference with Denis Zvizdic, chair of the Council fo Ministers
Press release on meetings with political leaders