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PES welcomes Spanish EU Presidency ‘Sarajevo conference’ on targeted EU future for Western Balkans

Date

03 Jun 2010

Sections

Enlargement

The Party of European Socialists (PES) today welcomed the successful conclusion of the Spanish EU Presidency’s Sarajevo Conference. The 2 June conference, to renew EU commitment to EU membership for Western Balkan countries, brought together foreign ministers from the EU and the region as well as representatives from US, Turkey, Russia, NATO, the OSCE and the Venice Commission.

The European Union was ably represented by EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule and by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, both members of the PES family.

PES President Poul Nyrup Rasmussen stated that; “the positive conference conclusion is an extremely important signal ten years after the Zagreb summit of 25 November 2000 and its commitment to EU membership for countries in the region”. He emphasized that; “the year 2010 must mark a new beginning for this process of integration. It is true that “enlargement fatigue”, provoked by the economic crisis, is eroding enthusiasm. Balkan people should not pay the price for neo-liberal mistakes. Countries from the region need to implement all necessary reforms, so that a common vision can allow actors to work towards EU membership of the Western Balkans. For the PES, this vision for a new Europe is Enlargement 2014 as reiterated by PES Leaders at Balkans Conference Declaration in Sarajevo in March 2010”. Mr. Rasmussen was referring to the PES declaration to aim for EU membership for Western Balkan countries by 2014 .

Background:

The EU Enlargement strategy has suffered from lack of cohesion, focus and clear commitment. Enlargement fatigue could in turn threaten the popular consensus for EU integration in the region and may result in disillusionment and at worst political extremism.  In recent years, the region has made significant advancement towards EU accession showing the pro-European mindset of the countries in the Western Balkans.

The PES, as the most committed European political family to European integration for the Balkans, strongly endorses the Enlargement 2014 vision. The year 2014 should be a milestone on the roadmap towards EU accession, a symbolic target date giving new momentum and impetus on the centennial of the outbreak of the First World War to a fully united Europe

Social democracy has been a force for peace and tolerance in the region. The PES is proud to see many of its leaders from the region and from the EU turning this political event into an historical moment for the Balkans and its people.

For further information please contact Brian Synnott on +32 474 98 96 75 (brian.synnott@pes.org)

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