THE PRESIDENTBrussels, 18 October 2010
" Western Balkans: fulfilling a European destiny"
Video message - Herman Van Rompuy
The coming two days, I will visit the Western Balkans. They are anchored in a European perspective. I will be in Montenegro, in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Albania. In July, I visited Croatia, Serbia, Kosovo and our own member state Slovenia.
In a recent past, the countries of the Western Balkans were involved in violent conflicts and wars. In the nineties, Europe and the United States restored peace in the region. We promoted stability, security, democracy and freedom. We will continue to do so.
Europe is committed to a European perspective of the Western Balkans. A lot of efforts are done by the countries themselves, by the governments and the people. The European Union from its side gives active support. Since 15 years, we developed a comprehensive strategy. Technical and financial assistance for the region is over 2 billion Euros for the period 2010 to 2012. We have also offered progress on visa liberalization. This is a sign that we appreciate the efforts to reform.
But a lot still needs to be done. There is no time for complacency. Preparing a European future is a demanding task. We need more intensive overall reforms in key areas: democracy, good governance, human rights and the rule of law. Corruption and organized crime are a threat to stability and economic development. The fight against those has to be resolute and effective.
Stronger regional cooperation must lead to good neighborly relations. The European Union will not import regional conflicts.
And full cooperation with The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia remains important for the region to finally close a painful chapter in history.
The European project has always been driven by the desire for peace and unification. I believe that there is a place for the Western Balkans in the European house. Let’s call it “a European destiny”. I am sure that this European destiny will one day be fulfilled, by all of them. I will invite the European Council to reflect on these in the near future.