Belgian PM Calls for an EU Special Envoy in the Western Balkans

Belgian PM Charles Michel. Copyright© European Union 2018 - Source : EP Photo: Javier BERNAL
Belgian PM Charles Michel. Copyright© European Union 2018 - Source : EP Photo: Javier BERNAL

Brussels, May 3 (Tirana Echo) – Belgian prime minister Charles Michel has told the European Parliament that a special envoy of the EU to the Western Balkans could contribute to the stabilization of the southern region of Europe which hopes to join the union.

Having just returned from a trip to Albania and Serbia, I have become convinced that Europe cannot be content to be a mere facilitator,” Michel told MEPs during a speech in Brussels.

According to him, the EU should instead send a special envoy to the Balkans to “help forge a stability perspective in the region and avoid being faced with an escalation”.

The envoy should have “political legitimacy”, added Michel, suggesting that a former head of state could have widespread credibility to play the role.

His proposal which was welcomed by the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, comes a month after European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said that if the EU does not open up to the Balkans, there were risks of returning wars.

I do not want to see war returning to the Balkans and so we need to open up to them,” – European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker told the European Parliament. His comments were echoed by the President of the European Council Donald Tusk who warned against a “game of thrones” in the Western Balkans.

The European Commission is pushing for the EU to expand into a region which is still scarred by ethnic wars fought in the 1990s and dogged by a reputation for lawlessness.

Last month it recommended opening accession talks with Albania and Macedonia, with member states expected to vote on the issue during their upcoming European Council meeting in June. Germany and France have been resistant to promising further enlargement, fearing popular anger at home.

The prospect of enlargement of the European Union to the Western Balkan countries has been back on the political agenda of the Europeans for a few months now. An informal summit on this theme will be held on May 17 in Sofia, Bulgaria, which holds the current EU presidency.

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