The ALDE Group in the European Parliament and leaders and representatives of liberal and democratic parties of Western Balkans met in Belgrade on 5-6 December for the second European liberal democrat regional conference
ALDE was represented by the following MEPs: Jelko Kacin, Ivo Vajgl, Silvana Koch-Mehrin and Annemie Neyts.
They adopted the following conclusions by unanimity:
Croatia is on the door-step to the European Union, while Macedonia and Montenegro await a final start of the membership talks, Serbia has applied for membership and is awaiting candidate status. Visa-free travel has been established and extended for most of the countries, except for Kosovo with which a visa dialogue should urgently be established;
The European Union continues to face a turbulent time and the fall-out from the sovereign debt crisis will also affect the Western Balkans. The results of the many European summits have not convinced the markets and the political consequences are starting to manifest themselves.
It is our firm conviction that the EU’s current problems should in no way adversely affect the European integration of the Western Balkans. Nor should economic or financial concerns be used as excuse for rolling back the freedom of movement and visa liberalisation which has been secured over the last years. We are convinced that the continued European integration perspective can diminish the importance of nationalism, which still is the dominant political force in the region.
The ALDE Group in the European Parliament has been at the forefront in the demands for decisive action from Europe’s leaders, including calling for an “Act for the establishment of an economic and fiscal union”.
The ALDE Group believes that the European government leaders have to show a real commitment to end the crisis by establishing an economic and fiscal union that resolves the problem of having 17 different economic, fiscal policies as well as 17 different bond markets.
As liberal democrats we are far from satisfied with the speed of decisions inside the European Union and in the Member States, both on EU internal issues and on the conduct of EU’s foreign policy and enlargement.
Therefore, we, leaders and members of liberal democratic political parties in Western Balkans;
- reiterate our commitment to a effective and efficient European Union future and determination to make full EU membership a reality for all the countries of the region; Stresses that EU integration must be based on a commitment and adherence to common European values.
- welcome Croatian accession to the EU in July 2013 which will be a major victory for the European integration of the Western Balkans; supports the start of accession talks with Montenegro, expects that Macedonia, a candidate country since six years, will be able to commence accession talks too, but underline that not only the name issue, but also internal developments in the country give cause for concerns;
- stress that the Belgrade-Pristhina dialogue is crucial to the successful integration of Serbia and of Kosovo into the EU and must continue, be stepped up, and the agreements reached must be implemented; hopes that the Council will be able to grant Serbia candidate status at the December Summit, so as to avoid any further delays;
- underline that the deadlock in Bosnia-Herzegovina must become a European concern and the stalemate overcome; the ALDE Group will call for an EU initiative to organise an international conference to assist the country to reach a new constitutional set-up, which should be based on European values and standards and its solutions with regard to individual and collective identities; underlines that the BiH stakeholders should be fully involved in the whole process.
- welcome the start of a cooperation between the political parties in Albania and hopes that this cooperation will continue and that the agreement reached between the political parties will be respected and lead to clear progress with regards to the points stressed by the Commission’s opinion and lead to Albania becoming a EU candidate country;
- call for concrete efforts to improve the transport infrastructure in the region and hopes this will be boosted by the Croatian accession to the Union; underlines that this should be a priority in the work on the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014 -2020 and in the revision of the Instrument for pre-Accession;