The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia Anže Logar participated in the audio-video conference of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Western Balkans – Northern Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo and Serbia with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the European Union bordering the region – Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia , Romania and Slovenia. High representatives of the European Union also took part.
The audio-video conference was initiated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece Nikos Dendias and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Northern Macedonia Nikola Dimitrov, with the aim of exchanging opinions on the role of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and ways of successful cooperation needed in the next phases of the fight against COVID-19. In these phases, as announced by the Government of Slovenia, the socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic should be addressed.
Logar presented to the participants the successful measures for the suppression of the COVID-19 epidemic in Slovenia and informed them that Slovenia had declared the end of the COVID-19 epidemic on the basis of epidemiological indicators showing that the virus had declined. He said that general and special measures for suppressing the epidemic are still in force in Slovenia.
He also said that Slovenia emphasized the importance of European solidarity and regional cooperation in the Western Balkans and close cooperation between the countries of the Western Balkans and the EU. Logar also stressed coherence in terms of releasing measures and restarting the European economy.
During the talks, the ministers stressed the importance of co-operation of the Western Balkans region with the European Union, which is key to managing the crisis caused by the outbreak of the CODIV-19 pandemic. In that context, they discussed current and future co-operation on possible ways to mitigate the effects of the pandemic and manage cross-border travel and transport, as well as mutual economic support.
Ministers agreed that improved connectivity and access to EU markets remain key to stronger economic integration between the Western Balkans and the EU, for which the European Commission is preparing a joint European roadmap for publishing COVID-19 measures. The plan also includes enhanced cooperation in the most vulnerable sectors. In the field of health, enhanced cooperation between epidemiologists and public health workers is planned to control the pandemic and prevent recurrence.
In the field of transport, the established “green lines” or green corridors are important, for which the European partners are especially grateful to the countries of the Western Balkans. The opening of borders for travelers will be a gradual process in line with the development of the epidemiological picture. In the field of tourism, regional coordination will be needed to launch tourism activities and cross-border traffic.
On that occasion, the participants reaffirmed their commitment to the European future of the Western Balkans and at the same time expressed encouragement to Northern Macedonia and Albania to open negotiations for full membership, in accordance with the decision of the EU Council from March 2020.