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Joint Statement of the Visegrad Group on the Western Balkans

The Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Visegrad Group (V4) and Western Balkans partners took place in Warsaw on October 25, 2012 under the Polish Presidency of the Visegrad Group.

It followed the tradition of meetings dedicated to the Western Balkans held under the previous V4 Presidencies. Special guests included: Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, Minister of European Affairs of Romania, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece and European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy.

The meeting demonstrated a continuous support of the Visegrad Group for maintaining the momentum of the enlargement process of the European Union. The participants reaffirmed the shared values of: peace and stability, democracy, human rights, economic development, the rule of law and regional cooperation.

The participants discussed the situation in the region and the ways to advance each Western Balkans partner on the path to the European Union. Special focus was laid on the rule of law, regional co-operation, economic development and the security situation in the region. The Ministers and the Commissioner also exchanged views on the enlargement package which was published by the European Commission on October 10, 2012. The Foreign Ministers of the Visegrad Group welcomed the European Commission enlargement package as a detailed, precise and balanced assessment of the situation and expressed their hope that the Commission’s recommendations can be reflected in the Council Conclusions and confirmed by the European Council in December 2012. During the discussion, the emphasis was placed on the three main themes as identified by the European Commission in the package: putting the rule of law at the centre of enlargement policy; regional cooperation and reconciliation in the Western Balkans; economic and social challenges.

The participants have also briefly touched upon situation within the European Union including the challenges it faces.

Special attention was given to the latest developments in the V4 assistance towards the Western Balkans. The Visegrad Group updated the participants on the progress made towards establishing in Western Balkans a mechanism similar to the International Visegrad Fund in the Western Balkans. The V4 countries also presented a new initiative V4 – Western Balkans Expert Network on Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights. An expert-level network between the V4 countries and Western Balkans partners could be set up in order to support better reform processes, exchange ideas and provide technical assistance. The sustained co-operation could lay a foundation for a permanent V4 pool of experts supporting the Western Balkans partners including during the process of EU accession negotiations.

The Visegrad Group reaffirmed its intention to cooperate closely with the Western Balkans partners in the future. This will also include further informal meetings of V4 ministers of foreign affairs with their counterparts from the region.

EU member states present at the meeting underlined that visa liberalisation in the Western Balkans is a valuable achievement and called upon partners from the Western Balkans to take all necessary measures in order to prevent violations of visa free regime. At the same time, our partners shared with us their determination to address this issue, which confirms our conviction that a satisfactory solution will be found.

http://www.msz.gov.pl/en/news/joint_statement_of_the_visegrad_group_on_the_western_balkans

Photos: www.msz.gov.pl