Trieste 2017: a milestone in the enlargement to East

External Relations

The Conference of Trieste will take place on July the 12th, gathering together Presidents and Prime Ministers from 13 countries. Among those representatives  the EU High Representative Mogherini and the Commissioner Hahn for EU enlargements will also join this important event.

This diplomatic meeting is aimed to pave the way for 6 countries from the Balkans’ region in order to let them enter the European Union as Member States. The Trieste’s Conference belongs to a broader range of events and meetings organized within the framework of the “Berlin Process” – a diplomatic initiative inaugurated in 2014.

The wider Berlin Process is aimed at improving financial infrastructures in the Balkans’ region and enhance a deeper dialogue between those 6 countries – Serbia, Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo, Bosnia Erzegovina, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Fyrom) – and the European Union. In facts, the Process is not a substitute of the institutional EU accession process  rather than being aimed at encouraging the entrance of these countries in the EU. The six countries have been assisted in their efforts towards a greater democratization, as well as the financial and political stability.

The recent referendum held in Bosnia about the institution of the national party –  the 9th if January – put a stop to the EU enlargement process, undermining stability and the sovereignty in the country. In addition, the economy reaches very low standards compared to the EU member states economic performance. Just two of the broader range of projects and initiatives organized by the Berlin Process have been finally implemented. Instability and territorial disputes made the western Balkans a complex area for investors from EU countries.

Serbia, Albania, Macedonia have been theater of harsh clashes and fights. Protest broke out in Serbia when the former PM Vucic was elected President in April. The EU leaders have been oblivious of protests, while on the other hand have supported Vucic who is considered a reliable pro-European leader.

The EU was particuralrly proactive in Albania where a political crisis was solved thanks to EU pressures and diplomatic initiatives. EU leaders helped brokering a deal between the Socialists and the Democrats, in the view of stabilize the government and the country.

In the recent months Macedonia have been hugely hit by a wave of violence. Clashes have erupted when Talat Xhaferi, leader of the Democratic Union for the Integration, was elected President of the national Parliament. The crisis was recently solved thanks to the EU and US pressures.

Internal disputes and frictions between countries led to a poor economic performance at a regional level. The regional GDP is lower than the European, and the unemployment rate reached the 21% last semester. The projects of modernization realized within the framework of the Berlin Process will help the region to build a Regional Single Market. This proposal will be discussed in Trieste in order to enhance economic development and integrate the region in the EU. Balkans’ stability is crucial for the EU security, being the Balkans one of the most fertile areas for radicalization – one of the main threats that EU has to face.

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