Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said Monday that a six-point joint conclusion reaffirming support for the Western Balkans’ European path was adopted Monday at the 11th summit of the Brdo-Brijuni Process held in Brdo near Kranj, Slovenia.
Vucic explained that a conclusion was adopted without Croatia’s position on the importance of “legitimate representation of the constituent peoples at all levels of government in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).”
According to Croatian media, BiH representatives were the ones who refused to accept this wording.
Vucic said after the meeting that Serbia would have backed this Croatian President Zoran Milanovic’s position because it is in line with the Dayton Agreement.
“We managed to adopt a six-point joint conclusion which reaffirms support for the Western Balkans’ European path, visa liberalization for everyone in the region, the granting of candidate status to Bosnia and Herzegovina and, what it important to us, it asks for the European Union’s (EU) support in the light of the grave energy situation that the Western Balkans and the whole of Europe are facing, if it is possible for us to get it, if not, then nothing,” Vucic told the media in Slovenia.
The six conclusions adopted Monday at the Brdo-Brijuni Process meeting were posted on Twitter by Slovenian President Borut Pahor.
1. We reiterate the EU enlargement policy as the most direct contributor to the maintenance of peace and stability in our region, and more than ever a geopolitical issue.
2. We call for accelerated EU integration process, in line with the well established conditions for EU membership.
3. We call for granting the candidate status to Bosnia and Herzegovina by the end of 2022.
4. We call for removal of visa regime for the entire Western Balkans by the end of 2022.
5. We call for EU to stand side by side with Western Balkans in mitigating the consequences of the looming economic and energy crisis.
6. We reaffirm our strong commitment to the dialogue as the only viable solution to the existing differences and open political issues in the region.
Sovoditelja pobude Brdo-Brijuni Process predsednik Republike Slovenije Borut Pahor in predsednik Republike Hrvaške Zoran Milanović sta predstavila zaključke današnjega 11. vrha voditeljev. @Ured_PRH pic.twitter.com/ETM4iUb42R
— Borut Pahor (@BorutPahor) September 12, 2022
The summit was hosted by Slovenian President Borut Pahor and Croatian President Zoran Milanovic, and was, in addition to Vucic, also attended by Albanian President Bajram Begaj, members of the BiH Presidency Zeljko Komsic, Milorad Dodik, and Sefik Dzaferovic, Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani and President of North Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski.
President of North Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski told the Summit that BiH deserves to be granted EU candidate status and that Kosovo deserves a visa-free regime, adding he expects Slovenia’s and Croatia’s continued support for the Western Balkan countries’ European integration process.
“We showed that there are a lot of differences, diametrically opposed positions, but the conversation proceeded in a civilized, rational manner,” said Vucic, adding that the region’s expectations from the EU was the main topic and that the meeting was held in a better atmosphere than last year even though the situation in the region is now more difficult.
Meetings of the leaders of the Brdo-Brijuni Process, which was initiated by Slovenia and Croatia in an effort to give impetus to the region’s faster accession to the EU, are held every summer since 2013, usually in Slovenia.
Mutual recognition is the only possible solution for achieving the desired peace and bringing the countries closer to the EU, Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani told a press conference following the Brdo-Brijuni meeting, adding that partial solutions achieved in the Pristina-Belgrade dialogue do not bring long-term peace.
Vucic said the EU is not very popular with the Serbian citizens and expressed hope that this can change in the coming period.
“I come from a country that is on a European path, it will not give up on this, but a country in which the EU is the least popular. If you were to have a referendum in Serbia today on whether or not to join the EU, the Serbian citizens would say no. I hope we will manage to change this in the months and years ahead of us,” Vucic told the media.
Vucic explained that one of the main reasons for this is the issue of Serbia’s territorial integrity, because “everyone keeps talking about Ukraine’s territorial integrity, while they have trampled all over Serbia’s territorial integrity.”
“People in Serbia cannot accept this kind of hypocrisy, but I hope this Serbian citizens’ rational impulse will switch on in future and that we will understand what our real interests are and that we will be able to separate them from emotions,” said the Serbian President.
Commenting on the Belgrade-Pristina negotiations, Vucic said now “everything is different”.
“There will be many comings and goings of various experts. The first thing is – no one wants a new conflict in the Balkans, and the second is that they want to take the Kosovo argument out of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s hands, which he uses in talks with all Western officials,” Vucic added.