Ahead of today's summit of the EU and Western Balkans leaders, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that the summit itself was a strong political signal. Zagreb Summit
Although the meeting will be conducted via video-conference call in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic, considering the fact that it's initiated by Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU it still carries the name of "Zagreb summit".
Zagreb is once again hosting a meeting on the European perspective of Western Balkans countries, as it did 20 years ago, when Croatia initiated it's way to the EU membership. Since then, two more meetings on the same level have been held - in Thessaloniki in 2003 and Sofia in 2018.
In the interview he gave to Politico, Prime Minister Plenković expressed the wish for EU to send a stronger signal of support to the Western Balkans countries and added that the meeting is a strong message in itself. The EU is the most important partner of the Western Balkans region and the video-conference will highlight this notion.
After the EU gave green light to the Republic of North Macedonia and Albania in March to launch accession negotiations, one of the priorities of the Croatian presidency has been fulfilled. Commenting on that decision, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that it would be the political legacy of Croatian presidency to our neighbours and that "enlargement has returned to the agenda."
"If we can focus on this high-level political dialogue every two years, we as a Presidency can say with a certainty that we have achieved our goals. This is the key."
Andrej Plenković, President of the Government of the RH in an interview with Politico
The Zagreb Declaration
Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Gordan Grlić Radman, stressed that the European perspective and commitment of the Western Balkan countries to the EU and cooperation in the pandemic are key elements of the Zagreb Declaration that will be adopted during today's meeting.
Furthermore, Minister Gordan Grlić Radman stated that the Croatian EU Presidency has proposed that summits on European integration be held every two years.
"Not all EU members are equally interested in enlargement. There is still talk of what the future will bring with new members, but Croatia has shown initiative in this regard."
Gordan Grlić Radman, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs
We bring to mind that before the meeting of the EU and Western Balkans leaders, the Council approved a 3 billion euros of macro-financial assistance for ten enlargement and neighbourhood partners to help them cope with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Financial assistance will be provided in the form of loans on very favourable terms.