site.btaSixth Western Balkans Conference Opens in Sofia
MEP Angel Dzhambazki (European Conservatives and Reformists Group) opened the sixth edition of the Western Balkans Conference in Sofia. The event is organized by the New Direction think tank for European reforms, where Dzhambazki serves as Vice President, and co-organized by the Warsaw Institute and the European Democracy Youth Network.
Historically and culturally, the Western Balkans belong to the European civilization, the question is how to make this happen in a political way, as well, Dzhambazki said, addressing the forum.
"There is no doubt that the Copenhagen criteria must be respected. Almost without a single exception, all countries that are or will become [EU] membership candidates are trying to meet these criteria. There is room for improvement, of course, in terms of the criteria of respect for human rights and the right to self-determination, both from Belgrade and from Skopje. This is the main stumbling block before launching full-scale negotiations for the accession of all Western Balkan countries to the EU", Dzhambazki stressed.
"This is the place to once again call on the politicians and public figures in those two countries [Serbia and the Republic of North Macedonia] to make sure that they do not hinder everyone else, do not delay them, do not waste their time. Neither Kosovo, nor Albania, nor Bosnia and Herzegovina, nor Montenegro deserve to waste time because of the behaviour of the authorities in Skopje, and to a large extent in Belgrade, as well", he added.
Dzhambazki stressed that Serbia and the Republic of North Macedonia make noticeable attempts to circumvent the EU’s rules and criteria on their way to enter the Union.
In his words, another important question is what kind of EU the Western Balkan countries will join. "The EU is going through a rapid transformation. Our political opponents are trying to hijack it to a place where no one knows what will happen. The political idea of the future of the European Union is unacceptable and scandalous to us", Dzhambazki told the participants of the forum.
According to him, the EU is moving away from its original idea designed after the end of World War II.
The Western Balkans Conference takes place for the sixth consecutive year. The forum gathers politicians, public figures, journalists and experts to discuss the future of the region, security, media freedom, freedom of self-determination and needed reforms.