Az alábbiakban olvashatók mindazok az események melyek velem szakmai pályám alatt megestek, vagy amelyek befolyással voltak rá. Kedves Olvasó! Kérlek jóindulattal olvasd soraimat és ha érdekesnek, tanulságosnak, esetleg szórakoztatónak találod meséld tovább ismerőseidnek. Pap Norbert
2010. február 16., kedd
Athens, 21 January 2010
Ms Catherine Ashton
EU High Representative
for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
As neighbors of the Western Balkans to the North and the South, Austria and Greece follow developments in this region with particular interest. Not least, thanks to the efforts of the EU and its successful enlargement policy, substantial progress towards peace, democracy, stability and economic development has been achieved over the past years. The governments in the Western Balkans have adopted the European agenda and the overwhelming majority of the people in the region share the European vision. Nevertheless, this is not the time for complacency. Political, economic and social problems persist. Progress in the Western Balkans is not yet self-sustaining. Moreover, in economically difficult times, many doubts are voiced regarding the European perspective of the Western Balkans.
The region, however, has to remain high on our agenda and receive the necessary attention and engagement. A new momentum is needed to make the political messages addressed to the region more effective. This is, therefore, the right moment to renew at a high level the EU’s commitment to the region and to set out the course ahead in concrete terms.
In Zagreb in 2000, we stated that all countries of the region are potential candidates. In Thessaloniki in 2003 we further decided that the ultimate place of these countries is within the EU, while presenting a concrete Agenda which still remains the cornerstone of the course of the Western Balkans towards full membership. We both believe that the following years are crucial.
In this context, we warmly welcome the intention of the Spanish Presidency to convene a high level conference on the Western Balkans on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Zagreb Summit. The date of 2014, as a symbolic milestone on the road towards the EU, could help to further invigorate and accelerate the European course of the countries in the region, on the basis of concrete roadmaps (“Agenda 2014”). Setting specific time-frames can serve as an incentive for the countries of the region to accelerate reforms and carry out the necessary adaptations.
The challenges are manifold. So are the opportunities. In this respect we hope that in the year 2010 we will able to welcome:
the completion of accession negotiations with Croatia;
a mutually acceptable solution on the name issue, which remains essential, and the opening of accession negotiations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia;
progress of Serbia in its European aspirations, including unblocking of the ratification of the SAA and appropriate follow-up to the country’s application for membership of the EU;
concrete progress through the EU’s engagement in Kosovo;
a reinforced role of the EU in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the ultimate aim of its European integration. A genuine commitment of all leaders to establish functional state institutions is essential for the pursuit of the European aspirations of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina;
enhanced efforts by Albania and Montenegro in cooperating with the Commission, in the context of the evaluation of their application for EU membership;
fulfillment of the remaining benchmarks of the road maps towards visa liberalization by Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
As neighbors of the region, we are particularly aware of the need to strengthen regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations, among the countries of the Western Balkans.
The South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP), along with the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), as its operational arm, has acquired increased regional ownership, thus allowing for the implementation of new initiatives in the new upgraded context.
The significant reduction of the international military presence in the Western Balkans envisaged for 2010 testifies that there are significant gains in regional security. We now need to enable the countries of the region to become exporters of security by facilitating their further participation in ESDP operations.
The implementation of the Lisbon Treaty provides the opportunity to the EU to acquire a more coherent and strong international role. The Western Balkans would constitute a suitable field to demonstrate our new capacity to act internationally. In this respect, we feel that new visibility for the EU in the area is necessary. In this vein, we should promote a better understanding, in the Western Balkans of our major policies concerning international challenges and priorities, such as facing the economic crisis, climate change and migration. We consider that a smooth transition in the EU representation in the Western Balkans should become a priority.
Austria and Greece consider the EU’s engagement in the Western Balkans over the past years as a major success story. It is now crucial that the EU does not get distracted by other pressing issues on the international agenda. We need to keep our focus and mobilize the necessary attention, political will and resources to bring this process to a successful conclusion. Of course, it will ultimately be up to the local protagonists to determine the speed of progress towards the EU by setting the pace of the necessary reforms to meet the criteria and requirements for accession. At the same time, it is up to us to ensure that the European perspective as the essential driving force for reforms remains credible and effective among the peoples of the region.
In conclusion, we consider the European integration of the countries of the Western Balkans as a high priority for the coming years and the best possible guarantee for stability and institutional sustainability. The EU needs to honor its commitments towards the countries of the region and encourage them to comply with the European principles and values.