Ex-commissioner: Montenegro only country currently ready to join EU

NEWS 09.10.2022 15:53
Source: eureporter.co

Former EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle said at a panel discussion on EU enlargement in Zagreb on Saturday that Montenegro was the only country currently ready to join the EU because the burden of its history was not too heavy.

The panel, organised by the European Parliament Office in Croatia and the Croatian Youth Network, discussed the EU membership prospects of six countries of the Western Balkans which covers Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo and North Macedonia.

The only one of the six countries knocking on the EU's door that is ready to join the EU, as it is today, is Montenegro. That is a fact, it is a small country which does not carry a lot of historical burden and can join quickly the European family if it focuses on reforms, the former commissioner said.

He noted that the enlargement effort, an essential part of the EU's history, has unfortunately stopped, adding that the awarding of candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova could be encouraging for Western Balkan leaders.

They should look at Ukraine and Moldova's candidacy as a challenge to create conditions in all fields, necessary to complete the accession talks, Füle said, adding that he considered enlargement a geopolitical issue.

Croatian member of the European Parliament Karlo Ressler of the HDZ party (EPP group) said that even though Croatia supports enlargement to the Western Balkans, it is not happening due to stagnation in reforms and not only because of geopolitical reasons or interests.

Speaking of stagnation in the field of reforms, another HDZ MEP, Zeljana Zovko, said that that the biggest obstacle was the rule of law.

“Nevertheless I believe that Western Balkan countries can adopt European values, we must work on that and convince the old members so that work on EU enlargement becomes an acceptable option,” she said.

Socialists & Democrats MEP Alessandra Moretti, who chairs the Delegation to the EU-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee, said that Serbia was still far from being ready to join the EU.

I believe that Serbia and its president Aleksandar Vucic have abandoned the idea of EU membership as well as European democratic standards, she said.

The chair of the Croatian parliamentary Committee on European Affairs, Social Democrats MP Domagoj Hajdukovic said that it was very important for the future of Europe that Western Balkan countries keep the prospect of EU membership, otherwise the EU's influence could be replaced by that of Russia, China or someone else.

Maria Rodriguez Alcazar, Board Member at the European Youth Forum, pointed to the importance of putting more emphasis on the needs of young people in accession talks.

Education about youth policies and the way they are adopted paves the way to the greater participation of young people. It is of crucial importance to listen to the demands of young people and strengthen instruments available to youth and civil society organisations, she said.

The Zagreb panel on enlargement was held as part of the conference “Destination: Together in EU”, held on Friday and focusing on the EU's readiness for new members and young people as active members of society, the European Parliament Office in Croatia said.

The conference was held in partnership with the embassies of the Czech Republic and France as part of the European Year of Youth.

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