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President Pahor at the meeting of the leaders of the Brdo Brijuni Process in Skopje

Ljubljana, 27. 4. 2018 | press release, statement, Brdo Brijuni Process

Together with the host – the President of the Republic of Macedonia, Gjorge Ivanov – the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, and the President of the Republic of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, held a meeting of the leaders of the Brdo Brijuni Process. The leaders of the Process met at a summit in Skopje on 27 April 2018; the special guests were the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, and the Bulgarian Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, who is presiding over the Council of the European Union.

This meeting of the leaders of the Brdo Brijuni Process was also attended by Aleksandar Vučić, Filip Vujanović, Bakir Izetbegović, Hashim Thaci, Gjorge Ivanov, and Ilir Meta.

The guests of honour at these meetings have previously included the President of France, François Hollande (2013), the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel (2014), the President of Austria, Heinz Fischer (2015), the Vice-President of the United States, Joe Biden, the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk (2015), the President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella (2016), and the German President, Frank-Walter Steinmeier (2017).

By holding this year’s meeting of the Brdo Brijuni Process, the leaders of the initiative, the presidents of Slovenia and Croatia, wish to strengthen trust and the commitment to stability and reconciliation in the region of Southeast Europe. Due to the current situation in Europe and the world, strengthening political dialogue is imperative. This summit of the Brdo Brijuni Process will discuss current regional topics, especially in the light of the recently presented strategy of the European Commission on enlargement, and ahead of the Sofia Summit, when the Council of the European Union will meet in May in the capital of the currently presiding Member State, Bulgaria. It is to be expected that the leaders will support the strategy, convinced that European integration is essential for security and progress in the region. High delegates will also discuss opportunities and ways to improve and accelerate the enlargement process and will also touch on other issues relevant for the region and for Europe.

After the plenary session, the leaders also issued a declaration.

Conclusions of the Brdo-Brijuni Process Leaders’ Meeting
Skopje, the Republic of Macedonia, April 27, 2018

We, the leaders of the Brdo-Brijuni Process, in the presence of our guests, the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria, Boyko Borisov, recognize that the EU’s renewed focus on our part of Europe calls for our responsible strategic response.

We, the leaders of the Brdo-Brijuni Process acknowledge that the responsibility now lies with the EU candidate countries and potential candidates to continue persistently with the required accession process reforms, thus realizing this shared strategic orientation. Mindful that the rule of law, fundamental human rights, efficient judiciary and good governance, as well as the fight against corruption and organized crime are crucial to progress, development and stability, we will invest further efforts in comprehensive reforms aimed at their strengthening. We endorse the objective criteria for enlargement of the European Union with the members of the Brdo-Brijuni Process, where evaluating the individual merits is underscored – thereby giving each of them an EU perspective.

We, the leaders of the Brdo-Brijuni Process welcome the messages and concrete proposals from the EU-Western Balkans Strategy: A Credible Enlargement Perspective for an Enhanced EU Engagement with the Western Balkans. We commend the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, particularly for its priority to reinforce the Western Balkans’ European perspective and the synergy with the Brdo-Brijuni Process members’ views regarding consolidating lasting peace, security and prosperity in South East Europe. We welcome the upcoming EU-Western Balkans Summit in Sofia as a concrete expression of the reasserted EU’s approach to the region. We greatly value that Croatia and Slovenia will attach high priority to this strategic orientation and organize summits in this format during their respective Presidencies of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2020 and in the second half of 2021. We proudly underline that this kind of strengthened EU’s approach towards the Western Balkans has been continuously advocated by the Brdo-Brijuni Process, thus we consider it our success as well.

We conclude that greater synergy is needed in regional initiatives and mechanisms in view of building an inclusive region. We strongly encourage and mutually support the membership of all the Brdo-Brijuni Process members in regional initiatives and mechanisms as one of the best ways to achieve inclusive and effective cooperation in the region. In this respect, we particularly salute the synergy achieved between the Brdo-Brijuni Process and the Berlin Process.

Aware that the EU integration process remains a strategic catalyst to strengthening peace, security, stability and prosperity in our region, we commit to continue providing mutual support in processes of European and Euroatlantic integration, latter for NATO aspirants. To that aim, we stress the importance of refraining from any polarising populist and nationalist rhetoric or activity that may artificially increase tension in bilateral and regional relations that may contribute to instabilities. We expect that, in spite of existing open issues and disputes, friendly cooperation, mutual understanding, respect and dialogue in good faith between the Brdo-Brijuni Process members will be further strengthened, in conjunction with full adherence to the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, non-interference in the internal affairs of the states, non-enticement of violence, avoidance of incidents and refraining from unilateral acts, in particular by use of force or threat of use of force.

We encourage the resolution of open issues and disputes in the spirit of good-neighbourliness and in accordance with international law, reverting to means of peaceful settlement, foremost, permanent international courts and tribunals, as well as arbitration.

As a follow up to the Extraordinary Summit of the Process in Zagreb in November 2015, we welcome the recent first meeting of the heads of our intelligence agencies in Skopje, as a sign of readiness for cooperation in security issues of common concern, such as illegal migration, radicalism, extremism, terrorism, organized crime. Together we have to work on strengthening the resilience of our societies against new forms of disruptive elements and share better information on different sorts of hybrid threats. In this regard, the EU candidate countries and potential candidates shall strive to enhance cooperation with the EU, especially within the CFSP framework, for those who are eligible, each in line with their own priorities. Regarding the rising trend of illegal migration, we call upon the countries of South East Europe to remain vigilant and to strenghten their cooperation to counter this threat and dismantle the associated organized crime networks.

We, the leaders of the Brdo-Brijuni Process expect further EU assistance for improving transport, energy and digital connectivity of the members of the Brdo-Brijuni Process, by strong support to existing projects. We support further efforts on improving energy security, energy efficiency and diversification as a crucial investment in building energy sustainability and independence, and an important driver of growth, competitiveness and regional energy integration. We call upon the EU to continue to support the development of intraregional economic integration in order to boost the attractiveness of the regional market and to further the economic growth.

We deem it particularly necessary to create palpable opportunities for young people and encourage the creation of additional educational and employment opportunities by increasing EU programs and by introducing regional scholarships programs for young people, thus increasing the mobility of students and teachers. We support initiatives for national and regional partner start-up projects for young people. We support joint projects of youth NGOs aimed at promoting tolerance and mutual understanding and eliminating all kinds of prejudices, thereupon building an inclusive generation with respect for diversity and pluralism.

We agree that the Republic of Albania will be the next host of the Brdo-Brijuni Process Leaders’ Meeting in 2019.