Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Gordan Grlić Radman on Tuesday participated in a video conference at the invitation of the foreign ministers of Greece and North Macedonia that brought together ministers of the Western Balkan countries, the EU (Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Romania, Slovenia) and representatives of EU institutions – Neighbourhood and Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhely and Secretary General of the European External Action Service Helga Schmid.
Thanking the ministers for their initiative, Grlić Radman reflected on the COVID-19 crisis, stressing that it required coordinated response, solidarity and cooperation. “The fight against COVID-19 has brought the EU and Western Balkans closer together,” he said.
The minister then commented on the results and recommendations of the EU-Western Balkans Summit, underlining its two key messages: unity and solidarity, and active political support for the European perspective of the Western Balkans. He said that these messages were extremely important in the current circumstances as they showed not only that enlargement was still high on the EU agenda, but also that Croatian Presidency was successful, as it had achieved the goal of opening membership talks with Albania and North Macedonia in spite of the crisis.
Concluding his address, Grlić Radman underscored the importance of comprehensive and strong measures for economic recovery. He said that the Multiannual Financial Framework should serve as the cornerstone of that recovery and applauded the Commission’s announcement about a strong economic and investment plan geared towards the Western Balkan countries. In the end, the minister emphasized the importance of close cooperation as the only way to weather the current crisis.