Todays Date
March 25, 2023

An autumn of a decisive turning point

By Bardhyl ZAIMI


The Western Balkans is gradually entering a new phase of perspective. The large number of delays in the past period, largely due to intrusive and profoundly atavistic policies in their conception, seem to have yet another commitment, reinforcing their orientation to be part of the EU.

The gloomy look of the past seems to give way to a glimmer of hope coming from European chancellors increasingly concerned with Europe’s geography and value system to integrate the troubled region of the Western Balkans.

Following the failure of the opening of negotiations in June, North Macedonia and Albania are likely to open accession negotiations in October, as announced. If, until recently, there were doubts about whether the two countries would start talks in October, there is already a decisive turning point that October is likely to turn into a month of European engagement.

Germany, namely the German Bundestag, has already opened another horizon for Albania and North Macedonia. The DW reports that the CDU/CSU and SPD parliamentary groups have adopted a document that gives the green light for starting negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. However, German lawmakers have additional conditions for Albania, and they split them into two phases. Two of them must be completed before the first membership conference and seven before the second conference begins, i.e. the opening of the first chapters (23 and 24).

The document is expected to be approved at the Bundestag on Thursday night, after a 45-minute debate. The only party expected to oppose the negotiations with the two Western Balkan countries is the opposition parliamentary group Alternative for Germany (AfD). Other opposition parties, the Green and the FDP’s liberals, are expected to say yes, while the left is still uncertain but leaning towards yes.

Undoubtedly, this is great news for both countries, which over time, in the broader context, have shown a tendency to keep up with EU commitments to open negotiations. Despite the internal dynamics that are not always coherent with policy downturns, the two countries in this period have shown much greater commitment to meeting the minimum conditions for creating momentum for thinking by the EU countries and Germany in particular, which has at all times stimulated and promoted the concept of enlargement with the Western Balkan countries. Chancellor Angela Merkel is the promoter of this vision for a more engaged approach to the region. This is also confirmed by the Berlin Process initiative in 2014, which has already created another integrative engagement with concrete commitments and investments.

In line with these commitments, there were recent statements by French President Macron, who despite the concept and vision of deepening the European idea before eventual enlargement, meanwhile demanded much greater engagement by French diplomacy for the reintegration of the Western Balkans into European geography. With the announcement of talks with North Macedonia and Albania, the region is now embarking on other dimensions of stability and security, political, economic and generally democratic development that guarantees prosperity for all citizens.

In almost all areas of institutional and public life, the EU and the United States have shown extraordinary caution, investing huge sums of money in aligning standards with those of the EU. The EU and the US commitments to Euro-Atlantic integration have been consistent and systemic. In a recent statement, European Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said that since the early 1990s the EU had invested over 11 billion Euros in the Western Balkans.

All the time the EU has invested in all sectors in the countries of the region. Infrastructure projects, as well as continued support for the media and other public actors, are the focus of EU investment in the countries of the region. Recently, these specific commitments and investments have been reaffirmed at two EC conferences this year, in Poznan, Poland and in Podgorica, Montenegro. The EU’s efforts to integrate into the region have always been tangible and persistent despite local stereotypes sometimes created by forces that do not want the good for the region.

Specific facts and figures can measure the planning of European funding in the countries of the region, in terms of overall development and progress, despite some intrusive forces that have invested only in fake news and sabotage for this essential orientation of the region.

However, the Western Balkan countries are on the verge of a major historic turning point, in front of another horizon that enables systemic breakthroughs and enables better standards and better living for all citizens. Europe seems to be finally returning the Western Balkans to its geography, to its concept of values and progress. The German Bundestag vote, as well as the readiness of other EU countries to fully integrate the region into European geography and institutional life, should be seen in this context.

It will certainly be a long road with many challenges, but now the light at the end of the historic tunnel illuminates another future within the European concept and beyond other influences that want to keep the region in perpetual instability, in dramatic situations conceived in conflicting rhetoric that produces constant “bitterness” in the face of their blurred agendas.

The future of the Western Balkans is in the EU, and fortunately a new momentum of political transposition and way of thinking is created that will enable much greater understanding of this timely sent ambition by the countries from the region and generously accepted by the European Union.


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