Interview to Andrej Zorko, EESC Member, on a ‘’A credible EU perspective for the Western Balkans’’

A credible EU perspective for the Western Balkans

It is not only in the interest of the Western Balkans to join the European Union, but also it is equally important for the European Union to incorporate this strategic region.
The negotiations, the accession process with Montenegro has lasted nine years, and with Serbia has lasted eight years, and the negotiations, the accession process with Albania and North Macedonia didn't start yet. North Macedonia also changed its name to overcome difficulties with its neighbours.
Should the EU change its enlargement strategy?
A lot of citizens in the Western Balkans, at the beginning, they believe that the EU bring to them a better life, quality of life, and if you don't start negotiations or if the negotiations go on for a long, long time, the trust that their country one day becomes a member of the EU goes down.
This is the first point. The second point, if you change the conditions during the process, it is also a very bad message. There are already some global players present in the region and they are doing everything that they can to increase their influence in the Western Balkans, for example, China or Russia.
We should find a way to keep the enlargement process alive.
Should the Western Balkans participate in the Conference for the Future of Europe?
Europe also includes the Western Balkans countries and here we are talking about the future of all of Europe, and that's why from our point of view, it's very important that the Western Balkans countries, the citizens, the civil society organisations, the social partners, have a chance to participate in this conference because the message will be very positively adopted in all those Western Balkans countries.