One week at work with the Balkans, a crucial year for the region

One week at work with the Balkans, a crucial year for the region

I write on my way to South-East Asia: to Bangladesh first, where I will visit one of the camps hosting the Rohingya refugees; then to Myanmar, for the Asia-Europe Ministerial meeting.

I spent the last few days – after the historic decision to launch a Permanent Structured Cooperation on defence – working with our partners from the Balkans. 2018 can be a crucial year for the whole region, on its path towards the European Union. And we want to accompany them on this path with a new European Union’s strategy for the Balkans, which we will set up in February.

All our partners have taken significant steps forward – steps they can now consolidate, making their progress towards the European Union irreversible. Skopje, for instance, managed to end a long political crisis and is now carrying forward important reforms. On Tuesday I met with Deputy Prime Minister Bujar Osmani and Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov – here is the press release.

On Wednesday I chaired the Stabilisation and Association Council with Albania, together with Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati. Tirana has launched some crucial reforms on justice, on the fight against corruption, organised crime and drugs trafficking. And on all foreign policy issues, the European Union and Albania are 100% on the same page. Also for these reasons, I confirmed our determination to move forward Albania’s integration process – here is the press conference after the Council.

On Thursday I chaired the Stabilisation and Association Council with Serbia, together with Prime Minister Ana Brnabic. With her and with President Aleksandar Vučić, the day before, I had discussed Serbia’s progress towards the European Union: the Serbian government is showing the political will to pass reforms in many sectors – from economy to justice. They do so not only to get closer to the European Union, but first and foremost because this is the interest of the country and its citizens. Here is our  press conference, here the press release on my meeting with Vučić.

Of course, we also worked a lot on the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina: the two Presidents have committed to opening a new phase for the dialogue, towards a full normalisation of their relations. And the two parties’ political will is essential to reach the goal they have set for themselves.

We discussed this on Friday at the Stabilisation and Association Council with Kosovo, too, which I chaired with Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj. And also with Kosovo we talked about the reforms the country needs, from public administration to the economy. Press release here.

Finally, another important thing: on Thursday, together with Chile’s Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs Edgardo Riveros, we started talks to modernise our trade agreement with Chile. A sign of our closeness to the country and to the whole of Latin America: here is the press release.