European conservative leaders call on Western Balkans to refrain from ethnic provocations and fight corruption

St. Julian, Malta | Tirana Echo – Europe’s center-right conservative leaders have called on the Western Balkan countries to refrain from ethnic provocations and do more to strengthen the rule of law and fight corruption as they reaffirm their unequivocal support for the European accession perspective of the region.

Meeting at the European People’s Party (EPP) congress in Malta this week, European conservative leaders agreed on a joint resolution on the Western Balkans, which calls on all EU Member States, as well as on EU institutions, to pay more focused attention to the Western Balkans region, by drawing up a set of concrete steps and measures.

Fearing a Russian counter offensive diplomatic effort in recent months to increase its sphere of influence over south east Europe, EPP leaders have shown a determination to keep European integration perspective open, despite ongoing enlargement fatigue across the EU member states.

The EPP invited “all EU Member States to counter by all possible means the negative and disruptive role of external actors in the region and calls on the EU institutions and on all EU Member States to intensify their support for all European or national funds and projects in connection to the economic development of the Western  Balkans region in order to curb the increasing economic and political  influence of third countries“.

Concerned by recent developments in Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Albania EPP leaders also called on their leaders to refrain from ethnic provocations and condemned “all provocative and aggressive behaviour, which poses a threat to stability and peace, bearing in mind that peace can be neither built nor maintained based on nationalistic, populist and radical rhetoric.

Europe’s strongest political family is worried that bringing up controversies from the past will not help the countries of the region to move further down their European path, but rather that populism and nationalism will only distract them, sending them towards old conflicts of the past.

Fearing a surge in nationalist tendencies which could hamper EU values in these countries, the EPP recommended that “Western Balkan countries intensify their efforts in fighting corruption on all levels, including  in  politics and in society, applying a zero – tolerance policy“.

The full text of the EPP Malta Resolution on the Western Balkans can be found here.

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