Visegrad Four backs EU enlargement, say top diplomats in Budapest

The Visegrad Group (V4) strongly advocates the further enlargement of the European Union to include the countries of the western Balkans, the V4’s top diplomats said on Wednesday. 

At a news conference following a meeting of V4 top diplomats, together with their counterparts from the western Balkans, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia and Romania, Poland’s head of diplomacy Witold Waszczykowski said the V4 backed all EU integration endeavours and an open-door policy.

Ivan Korcok, Slovakia’s foreign ministry state secretary, said the V4 was leading the issue of enlargement, and the issue should not fall to the periphery of European Union interest.

V4 member states will guarantee that the countries of the western Balkan remain a part of Europe, he added.

Czech deputy foreign minister Jakub Durr said the V4 was clearly open to the issue of EU enlargement. Without the western Balkans, neither the EU nor NATO would be complete, he added.

Serbian foreign minister Ivica Dacic stressed that the western Balkan states are determined to become EU members, despite the “integration fatigue discernible in the bloc”. The long waiting time has kindled doubt in Serbs too, Dacic said.

Montenegrin foreign minister Srdjan Darmanovic said that the V4 group “has always been an example of successful cooperation”, and thanked the group for its support for the country’s NATO membership.

Albanian foreign minister Ditmir Bushati said that

integration can only be efficient if it is “unequivocal, logical and free of emotions”.

Romanian foreign minister Teodor Melescanu said that the whole of the “western Balkan elite” should be committed to reforms which should be accelerated to create strong institutions which would ultimately lead to European integration.

Macedonian foreign minister Nikola Dimitrov also welcomed the V4 group’s commitment to the cause of the western Balkans. Europe would be a safer place with an integrated western Balkan, he said.

Ekaterina Zaharieva, the Bulgarian foreign minister, said her country would give priority to the security and integration of the west Balkan region during her EU presidency in the first half of 2018. The European project will not be complete until these countries have become members, she added.

Kosovan foreign minister Behgjet Pacolli said his country was committed to European integration and grateful for the V4 support for its cause.

Josip Brkic, deputy foreign minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that

“if the EU were unwilling to speed up the accession process, that would bring serious problems on both sides”.

Bosnia and Herzegovina hopes to obtain the status of candidate member during the Bulgarian EU presidency, he said.

Photo: MTI