Italian minister wants EU to affirm support for Balkans
Posted March 14
TIRANA, Albania — Italy's foreign minister is urging the European Union to send a strong message of commitment to western Balkan countries to help counter the nationalist rhetoric of some leaders in the region.
Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano on Tuesday was in Albania as part of preparations for a summit of some EU and western Balkan nations to be held in Trieste, Italy on July 12.
Launched by German Chancellor Angela Merkel four years ago, the so-called Berlin process each year gives leaders in the western Balkans a chance to discuss joint projects or platforms with help from the EU.
Albania, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia Herzegovina and Kosovo are at different stages of being integrated into the bloc.
Domestic politics and tense relations in the region have been obstacles in the process.
"Due to that situation the EU should reaffirm its role as a main partner in the region and send a strong and concrete message of cooperation and commitment to all the western Balkan countries," Alfano said.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini toured the region earlier this month, trying to reassure Balkan countries that the EU remains open to enlarging despite discord in the 28-nation bloc.
Alfano said both the western Balkan countries and the rest of Europe would benefit from cooperation.
"The EU is not at an easy moment. But it is the most achieved institutional and political experiment of the world history," he said. "There is no other case where people at war, with millions of people dead, in a few decades achieve freedom, democracy, well-being and turn into the second industrial power in the world."