A meeting of the foreign ministers of the Central European Initiative, the longest-standing regional initiative founded as early as 1989, was held today in Ohrid.
Apart from the host, Macedonian FM Nikola Poposk, the meeting was also attended by Croatian FM, Vesna Pusić, Bulgarian FM Daniel Mitov, Italian FM Paolo Gentiloni, Albanian FM Ditmir Bushati, Hungarian FM Péter Szijjártó, Montenegrin FM Igor Lukšić, Romanian FM Bogdan Aurescu, Serbian FM Ivica Dačić, Bosnian Deputy FM Josip Brkić and RCC Secretary General Goran Svilanović.
In his keynote address, Poposki recalled the priorities of Macedonia’s CEI presidency. Gentiloni underlined the same interests shared by the EU and CEI member states, i.e. linking, energy and migration. He said that Macedonia’s CEI presidency was proof that that country was determined to be a factor in the region’s stability and continue along the path of European integration.
Pusić underscored that it was important for western Balkan countries to maintain their prospects of future membership to the EU because of stability in the region. Political stability of countries in the region is crucial because instability impacts the economy, Pusić said. “Energy security is vital and countries in the region must cooperate more,” she said. She underlined that Croatia will continue to work with neighbouring countries on necessary reforms, adding that it was important now to prepare a strategy for Macedonia so that it can come closer to the European path.
Dačić said that his country’s strategic aim was to join the EU as soon as possible, adding that his country was making excellent progress in a number of fields from the judiciary to doing business and migration. Lukšić said he believed his country had become a good example of integration, opening 18 negotiation chapters in a relatively short time. Bushati said that new realities need to be taken into concern and that Kosovo should be invited to join the Initiative. Mitov was hopeful that Macedonia would soon launch the process of European integration, provided it met all necessary criteria. Szijjártó and Aurescu also highlighted the importance of regional cooperation, the latter adding that reforms and preparations for the EU membership were not easy, but brought great benefit to countries and societies.
The meeting ended with the adoption of a joint statement, in which the ministers welcomed the Macedonian presidency’s priorities as well as commended and encouraged further progress of CEI non-EU member countries along the European path. The ministers also supported the EU enlargement to the Western Balkans and expressed deep concern over the situation in Ukraine and its surroundings, stating their solidarity with the people of Ukraine and its path toward building a stable, democratic and successful country.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is set to take the chair of the CEI in November.