Balkans knocking at EU door
Croatia’s president Stjepan Mesic will warn the EU against closing its door to new members from trhe Balkans while lobbying in Brussels on Wednesday
Mesic will upbraid European commission president Jose Manuel Barroso for his comments that enlargement is over until the EU finds agreement on a new constitutional treaty.
French and Dutch rejection of the EU constitution was blamed on a negative “enlargement fatigue” reaction expansion to eastern European by many in Europe’s political elite.
“Too much has been invested, in every respect, into the European unification project, and no one should assume the risk of challenging it,” Mesic told Friends of Europe on Tuesday afternoon.
“Failure to adopt the EU constitution and slower implementation of institutional reforms cannot and must not be a reason for slowing enlargement.”
“Any slowdown of enlargement would be equal to questioning the entire project and its conception. This should be made clear to those talking about enlargement fatigue.”
Croatia is determined to push forward to EU entry in 2009 despite Europe’s closed door after Bulgaria and Romania’s membership in 2007.
Zagreb is to continue business as usual towards EU membership after a announcement by Barroso that European expansion was limited..
Further enlargement will require a new European treaty as current EU decision-making procedures assume a maximum 27 members.
Also speaking on Tuesday, Serbian foreign minister Vuk Draskovic cautioned Brussels against undermining a Balkans region recently wracked by civil war amid the collapse of Yugoslavia.
While just 15 years ago Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia were embroiled in violent conflict, today all are united in ambitions to join the EU.
“The European potential of the western Balkans is very high but could be destroyed just by a decision to stop or postpone the enlargement policy of the EU,” Draskovic said.
Bosnian prime minister Adnan Terzic expressed dismay that the EU was failing to bite the bullet on explaining expansion to voters.
“Talk of enlargement fatigue and absorption capacity show the need for internal reform in the EU and for better communication with citizens,” he said.
The prospect of closing Europe’s door also dismays European commission Janez Potocnik, from Slovenia, like Croatia Bosnia and Serbia also a part of the former Yugoslavia.
“The Balkan countries recent history should be an impetus to join the EU, not an excuse not to,” he told the Friends for Europe.