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A Message to the Western Balkans: ”There’ll Be No Better Opportunity”

Tanja Fajon assessed that the countries of the Western Balkans should “at full speed” take advantage of the opportunity related to EU enlargement.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, Tanja Fajon, assessed that the countries of the Western Balkans should “at full speed” take advantage of the opportunity related to EU enlargement.

Regarding the statement by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, that the EU and the Western Balkans should be ready for enlargement by 2030, and whether both sides could really be ready for enlargement by that date, she says that her answer to that question is very clear.

“The opportunity is here and we should use it at full speed. We should work on finding sufficient political will in the Western Balkans for reforms and sufficient political will within the EU for enlargement,” she emphasized in an author’s text for “Politika”.

As she says, we should focus on the final destination, while “not neglecting the journey”.

“When it comes to the European Union, EU enlargement is undoubtedly back on the agenda. The geopolitical landscape makes it clear that there is no alternative to EU enlargement. The war in Ukraine increased the appetite for enlargement, and affirmed the impression that EU enlargement is a strategic necessity. Simply put, it’s now or never,” she stated.

According to Fajon, this of course does not mean that the EU enlargement criteria will be rejected and that the Western Balkans could enter the union without their fulfillment.

“This means that more political attention will be paid to the region and that the countries of the Western Balkans will be asked to meet the criteria as quickly as possible. For the EU, this only means a commitment to reform its decision-making process and to prepare itself in the institutional and financial sense of the EU”, she stated.

According to her, the coming years will not deal with perceptions or deceptions, but with the hard work of both parties, the Western Balkans and the EU.

“Such reform will not be an easy task, but it is necessary. And it is of strategic importance to the EU as much as enlargement. Skeptics might argue that it is unlikely that all these tasks could be met by 2030. But the realistic point of view that there will not be a better offer on the table for the countries of the Western Balkans, nor a better opportunity for the Union to improve and adapt to the new global reality,’ she stated. In the author’s text, Fajon also said that these difficult times require brave leaders on both sides.

“Leaders who will look to the future. Leaders who will be ready to put enlargement at the top of their agenda and take the necessary decisions that will enable enlargement. The European elections will therefore be an important turning point for achieving the 2030 goal,” Fajon concluded.

Source: b92

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