Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg will present the “Friends of the Western Balkans”, a group of seven EU member states keen to accelerate the accession of Western Balkan states to the EU, at the European Forum on Friday. Wachau in Lower Austria, his ministry announced on Wednesday.
Austria, Greece, Italy, Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic will be known as the “Friends of the Western Balkans” and are determined to take resolute action, the Austrian Ministry of Affairs announced foreign.
The European Union must “finally move forward decisively in the process of enlargement of South-Eastern Europe,” the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. APP reported.
“In paying due attention to Ukraine, the EU must not lose sight of the states of South-Eastern Europe,” the statement added.
Schallenberg had invited three Central European counterparts to the forum: Miroslav Wlachovský (Slovakia), Jan Lipavsky (Czech Republic) and Gordan Grlić Radman (Croatia). The US special envoy for the Western Balkans, Gabriel Escobar, will also be present, alongside key members of Bosnian civil society and the diaspora in Austria.
The foreign ministers of the “Friends of the Western Balkans” group intend to approve the “Göttweig Declaration”, which underlines the need for stronger European integration of the Western Balkans and the need for “gradual and accelerated integration” before full membership of the EU, the statement said. Added ministry.
Austria is pushing for the new group as EU and Western Balkans leaders reflect on promises of early accession made at the EU-Western Balkans summit in Thessaloniki in 2003, when it was Wednesday the 20th anniversary of the summit.
The Greens unhappy with Meloni’s invitation
But the Greens have already criticized Chancellor Karl Nehammer’s invitation to Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to the Europa Forum Wachau.
While European Greens spokesperson Michel Reimon stressed that this was a “dangerous signal of escalation”, Monika Vana, head of the Greens delegation to the European Parliament, called it “shameful and worrying the cavalry with which the conservatives are now bending to the extreme right.”
Conservative ÖVP MEP Lukas Mandl called the Greens’ criticism “completely ignorant.” “Giorgia Meloni has done a good job so far as head of government: pro-European and constructive. Not a single adjective used by the Greens to describe Meloni is justified by Meloni’s policies as head of government,” he said.
Nehammer met Meloni in Rome in May to discuss cooperation on irregular migration, with the two leaders sharing similar views on the need for a new approach.
(Chiara Swaton | EURACTIV.de)