Friday, June 9

Sánchez travels to the Balkans to support their EU accession process

  • An unprecedented tour kicks off this Friday Serbian, Montenegrin, North Macedonia, Albanian Y Bosnia and Herzegovina. The first four had never been officially visited by a Spanish president

  • Sánchez wants to strengthen relations bilateral Y economic with the five countries. Serbia and Montenegro are the ones that are ahead in integration

Pedro Sánchez closes July, having already (re)ordered his house, resuming his international agenda. As happened a year ago, by the way. In 2021, after revolutionizing his government, he headed to the United States to try to attract investments to Spain with which to multiply the impact of European funds. In 2022, after the successful NATO summit, the debate on the state of the nation and the hasty renewal of the leadership of the PSOE, the President of the Government travels, and he does so from this Friday, July 29, until next Monday, August 1to another part of the world, Western Balkansto show your support for the integration into the European Uniontrusting that the definitive accolade will be achieved in the second half of 2023, when Spain occupies the rotating presidency of the community club.

The socialist leader already flew to Warsaw this past Wednesday, but it was a fleeting trip, to the Spanish-Polish summit. Starting this Friday, after first chairing the meeting of his new executive in the PSOE and after taking stock of the political course, he undertakes a mini-tour through six cities and five countries: Belgrade (Serbian), Sarajevo and Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Podgorica (Montenegrin), Skopje (North Macedonia) and Tirana (Albanian).

It will be the first time that a President of the Spanish Government visits four of those five states —everyone except Bosnia and Herzegovina—, a palpable proof, they say in Moncloa, of the importance it attaches to the region. Sánchez wants to show the relevance that he grants to the bilateral political, economic, commercial, historical and even sentimental relationship with all of them. Because today’s Chief Executive was member of the Cabinet of the UN High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Spaniard Carlos WestendorpCome in 1997 and 1999.

And Spain he is also a dear partnersince from 1992 to 2010 it deployed up to 46,000 soldiers (23 died) in successive missions UN, NATO and EU in Bosniafirst with the task of monitoring compliance with the peace agreements and protecting humanitarian aid convoys, and later to train and advise to the Bosnian Armed Forces. Today, Spain contributes to Operation EUFOR Althea with three soldiersone in Mons (Belgium) and two in Sarajevo (BiH).

Sánchez already conveyed, at the summit between the EU and the Western Balkans last June in Brussels, prior to the European Council meeting, his full support for the region so that speed up the EU accession process. Because the heads of state and government of the community bloc granted the candidate country status to Ukraine and Moldovafueling the frustration of Balkan leaders, who warned the EU, as reported by EFE, that it was losing credibility in the region, since several countries had been waiting years for integration. Serbia and Montenegro —the most advanced in the accession process—, North Macedonia Y Albanian they have the candidate statuscondition of which still does not have Bosnia and Herzegovina. Skopjefor example, is considered a candidate since 2005 Y tyrantthe last of them, since 2014.

The president, on the tour that starts this Friday, will underline the message that Spain “supports EU enlargement“, because the Balkans is a Mediterranean region that “must be within the EU”. The Government, in this sense, and according to Moncloa sources, will try to ensure that the process gains definitive momentum in the Spanish presidency of the EU, in the second half of 2023. The socialist leader will urge his counterparts to “continue moving forward with reforms“that Brussels demands to be able to enter the community club. “All our support, sometimes you have to make tough decisions, but they are the ones that will lead to integration,” they sanction in the president’s team.

Spanish help

Sánchez’s tour begins on Friday in Serbia, continues on Saturday in Bosnia, continues on Sunday in Montenegro and North Macedonia and ends on Monday in Albania. For obvious reasons, it is left out of the trip Kosovowhose independence Spain does not recognize (nor do they, within the EU, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Cyprus), although Madrid does support a position “constructive“, in support of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and the work of the EU special representative in the area, the Slovakian Miroslav Lajcak.

In Belgrade, Sánchez meets on Friday afternoon with the president of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, who was already in Madrid on February 23 and who won the presidential elections again last April. On Saturday morning he holds a meeting with the president of the Serbian Assembly, the former prime minister Ivica Dacic. Serbia has a special friendship with Spain, they point out in the Executive, which helps that it does not recognize the unilateral secession of Kosovo in 2008.

Afterwards, he flies to Sarajevo to meet, first, with the three presidents of the collegiate presidency of Bosnia and HerzegovinaŠefik Džaferović, Željko Komšić and Milorad Dodik —the Head of State is a collegiate institution made up of three members: one Bosnian Serb representative from the Republika Srpska and two from the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (one Bosnian-Croat and one Bosniak). Sánchez will also meet with the mayor of the country’s capital, Benjamina Karic, at the Sarajevo Old Librarya building devastated in the war, which Spain helped rebuild and which was reopened in 2014, on the centenary of the start of the First World War.

The day will end in Mostar: the president will participate in an act of homage to the Spanish soldiers who fell in the Balkans in the Plaza de España and will take a walk through the old quarter with the city councilor, who will take him to the Old Bridge, symbol of reconciliation of the city that was destroyed in 1993 by Croatian artillery. The president, highlighted in Moncloa, was very vehement in the last European Council, urging the partners to grant the status of candidate to Bosnia and Herzegovina, which requested its accession in 2016, as soon as possible. Moreover, the leaders urged to the Commission to “inform them without delay” on the degree of execution of the 14 key priorities imposed by Brussels.

Spain has been very present in Bosnia due to the Balkan war: it deployed 46,000 soldiers and 23 died. Its presence today is limited to three troops

On Sunday, in PodgoricaSánchez will meet both with the Montenegrin president, Milo Daukanovićas with Dritan Abazovic, Prime Minister of the country since last April. It is hoped that the accession process will now speed up, after the differences between Daukanović and the former head of the country’s government. Montenegro, like Albania and North Macedonia, are NATO member countries (entered in 2017, 2009 and 2020, respectively), so all three share a “proven Euro-Atlantic vision”.

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After the unlocking of Sofia

The visit to Skopjeon Sunday afternoon, comes at a relevant moment for the country, since On June 24, the Bulgarian Parliament lifted the veto for the integration of North Macedonia into the EU, a veto that also affected Albanian, because your entry process in the club is linked. Sofia blocked since the end of 2020 the start of negotiations for the entry of its neighboring country into the Union, accusing it of not protecting ethnic Bulgarians.

Spain is one of the five EU countries that does not recognize Kosovo. Sánchez will not travel there. On Monday, from Albania, he returns to Madrid to preside over the last Council of Ministers before vacation

Related news

The Twenty-seven pushed Bulgaria to lift its foot and facilitate the incorporation of the Balkans, especially after having speeded up the sum of Ukraine and Moldovaand finally the pressure of the French presidency of the EU managed to get Sofia to accept the text that was submitted for approval in its Parliament. Sánchez is the first president of a European country, they underline in Moncloa, who visits Macedonia after the accession negotiations have been unblocked. He will meet with the president and the head of the government, Stevo Pendarovski Y Dimitar Kovacevski.

On Monday, the Socialist leader will meet with the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, who was already in Madrid on October 4 and with whom he will appear at the only scheduled press conference throughout the trip. But Sánchez will also deal with the newly elected president, the military Bajram Begajthat took office on July 24just a few days after accession negotiations begin. Its relations with the ‘premier’ are expected to be less eventful and facilitate integration into the EU. Schedule completed, Sánchez will leave for Madridwhere it will arrive around 2:00 p.m., in time for the last Council of Ministers prior to the summer break.

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