Halt plans for Balkans, Slovenia's president warns

A weak EU will not be able to expand to the Western Balkans, the president said.

The EU has been weakened by Brexit and may need to postpone plans for expansion into the Western Balkans, the President of Slovenia has warned. Borut Pahor said the bloc could not hope to take on the likes of Serbia, Montenegro and Albania as new members in its current state. Speaking in the presence of the European Commission’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, Pahor said: "A weak EU will not be able to expand to the Western Balkans.”

The Slovenian leader added “everything is connected and we are going through a period in which difficult decisions have to be made”. Negotiations have already begun with Serbia and Montenegro and the two countries could become fully-fledged EU members by 2025. The EU also hopes Albania, Bosnia, Macedonia, and Kosovo will be well on their way to joining by then.

Pahor also used the Bled Strategic Forum to criticise the European Commission for its inaction in the bitter border dispute between Slovenia and Croatia. And he warned the EU has lost credibility by refusing to take a strong stance on the issue. Both Slovenia, which joined the EU in 2004, and Croatia have laid claim to fishing rights in the Bay of Piran in the Adriatic Sea. An international court has ruled in favour of Slovenia, but Croatia has refused to accept the decision.

Pahor accused the EU of failing to support Slovenia and uphold European and international law, adding: “Why would the Balkan countries try to reach an agreement if, in the Commission’s opinion, such agreements do not need to be observed?”

Slovenia’s outgoing leader, Miro Cerar, used the forum in Bled to warn the future of multilateral alliances like the EU are at risk. He said: "The world has changed dramatically and multilateralism is being challenged severely.

 

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