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Statement of the MFA on European Commission’s Strategic Document Regarding the Western Balkans

 

The Czech Republic welcomes the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council issued under the title “A credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans”. The Czech Republic perceives this strategic document as a Commission’s re-affirmation of the importance of the region and of its European prospect and, at the same time, as an expression of its preparedness to play a key role in achieving this goal. The document confirms unequivocally the importance of strengthening the stability, security and economic development of the Western Balkans region for the benefit of the whole European Union.

The Czech Republic fully shares the emphasis on attaining the main tasks on the path to the membership, which remain to be the adherence to the rule of law and fundamental rights, strengthening democratic institutions, economic development and applying EU standards. To meet these goals, there is, however, still much work to be done by the enlargement countries.

The Czech Republic highly appreciates the fact that the Commission, along with the main challenges faced by the enlargement countries, emphasizes the need for much greater engagement on the part of the EU, and identifies for itself the concrete steps it is ready to effectively assist with to the enlargement countries.     

The Czech Republic clearly supports the emphasis the respective Strategy puts on the development of regional cooperation among the Western Balkan countries, whose purpose lies not only in the economic progress of the region but, in particular, in strengthening of good neighbourly relations, reconciliation, overcoming the legacy of the past, as well as solution of persistent outstanding issues.

The Strategy mentions, yet again, a possible 2025 membership perspective for Montenegro and Serbia, which are the current front-runners in their membership efforts. The Czech Republic unequivocally welcomes the fact that the Commission expresses its preparedness to recommend the launch of the accession negotiations with Albania and Macedonia, and that it envisages the candidate status for Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the perspective of Kosovo’s progress on the EU path.

The European prospect of Western Balkan countries continues to remain, first and foremost, in their own hands. Reaching the goal of membership depends on their own pace, quality of domestic preparation, consistency in execution of the reforms and strengthening the democratic institutions. The „merit-based principle” remains one of key elements of the accession process. The Commission is now providing to the enlargement countries yet another necessary and useful tool.

The Czech Republic, as a supporter of the enlargement process, will continue to be a partner to the Commission and to the enlargement countries, ready not only to promote their efforts, but to support them actively, too. The Czech Republic is convinced that, from the point of view of the stability and security of the Western Balkan region, as well as of the EU itself, there is important that the process of the enlargement of the European Union continues in parallel with the discussion about the future of the EU.

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