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Minister Erjavec highlights the importance of EU enlargement and future of youth at Western Balkans Summit in Trieste

Trieste, 12 July 2017 – Minister Erjavec, Prime Minister Cerar and Minister of Economic Development and Technology Zdravko Počivalšek attended the Western Balkans Summit in Trieste, which was hosted by Italy within the Berlin Process.



The Trieste Summit is the fourth in the series of summits within the Berlin Process, following those in Berlin in 2014, Vienna in 2015, and Paris in 2016. As before, the Summit was held in the form of three separate parallel sessions at the level of heads of state or government, ministers of foreign affairs, and ministers for the economy. The Summit was concluded with a joint meeting of all participating presidents and ministers; they discussed the conclusions of the ministerial meetings and other events held on the sidelines of the Summit.

At the meeting, Minister Erjavec accentuated the need to implement the arranged infrastructure projects, also in the context of EU's credibility in the region. He underlined the importance of the EU strategic communication, which ensures the visibility of EU efforts in the region. The minister also welcomed the signing of a treaty establishing a Transport Community concluded between the Western Balkan countries and the EU. The Transport Community is aimed at strengthening regional cooperation, eliminating obstacles to ensure more rapid and efficient transport connectivity between the Western Balkans and the EU, and harmonising the national legislations with that of the EU.

“We have to talk about the enlargement process,” said Minister Erjavec, pointing to the importance of the committed enlargement process, which has to remain credible with a view to EU consolidation. “The Western Balkan countries are a part of Europe, and the sooner they join the EU, the better. However, something must be done before we get there – by both the Western Balkan countries and the EU,” said the Minister, pointing to the expectations of the region presented last week in a joint letter by foreign ministers of the Brdo-Brijuni Process, which was sent to High Representative Mogherini, European Commissioner Hahn and counterparts in the EU member states. In the joint letter, regarding the progress made by individual countries, the ministers proposed to: 1) examine further possibilities to overcome the economic and development gap between the EU and the region as quickly as possible and 2) start to fully engage the European Commission in the fields defined in Chapters 23 and 24, so that better preparation accelerates the steps leading to the start of EU membership negotiations, also for countries not yet included in the negotiation process.

The Minister called on all participants to pursue and strengthen activities within the Positive Agenda for the Youth in the Western Balkans. “Hope and promises come with the rule of law and powerful institutions. Jobs and economic recovery arise from promises” said Minister Erjavec. It is essential to keep the young generation in the region, since countries need highly-educated professionals, but it is also vital to provide the appropriate basis for realising their ambition, and assure appropriate life opportunities. It is essential to focus on education, providing scholarships, mobility, job creation, and cooperation of young people in the region to promote reconciliation. Positive prospects and possibilities help to dissuade young people from other, negative, paths that present security threats. In this context, Minister Erjavec also mentioned the Slovenian initiative ‘Integrative Internal Security Governance’, a central platform for coordination between the activities of the EU, the region and also the US in the fight against terrorism, serious and organised crime, and border security in the Western Balkans.

Minister Erjavec underlined the importance of respecting international law. “EU member states have always set standards in this field, not only for the Western Balkans, but also for the rest of the world, for all democracies. I firmly believe that respect for obligations arising from treaties, decisions of international courts and tribunals, and other foundations of international law provide the foundations of the European Union,” said Minister Erjavec.