The Bled Strategic Forum opened in Slovenia on Aug. 28 with one of the panel discussions on Western Balkan integration into the European Union including the premiers of Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Albania, Croatia, Bulgaria and Kosovo.
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said it was true that there was Euroscepticism in Serbia, which took root in the time since Serbia received candidate status and never became an EU member, but that no Western Balkan country, including Serbia, had a better option or plan B.
Asked by the moderator what Serbia was doing toward normalization of relations with Kosovo, Brnabic said she did not consider the two different states and that normalization between Belgrade and Pristina in the interest of all was a high priority.
Asked the same question, Kosovo Premier Albin Kurti said there were no more violent protests in northern Kosovo, that Pristina had reduced the numbers of police in the area and that elections for mayors in the four northern municipalities would be held very soon.
He said that support to joining the EU was 93 percent among the Kosovo population, and only 36 percent in Serbia, and that Pristina had imposed sanctions against Russia, which Serbia was not even considering. He went on to say that normalization with Serbia could only happen if an oral agreement with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic is carried out, but that normalization also entailed that the other side know the difference between reality and fantasy, which he "can't help anyone with."
Montenegrin PM Dritan Abazovic said the leaders of the EU did not know what they wanted and that it was not wise to wait for conflict in the Western Balkans to change their approach to enlargement, while his Albanian counterpart Edi Rama said the region's countries should get more financial support from the EU.
Borjana Kristo, chairwoman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the EU must be much clearer and more definite on the conditions states have to meet to join, and North Macedonian PM Dimitar Kovacevski conveyed his people's dissatisfaction over the slowness of the nation's EU integration.
Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic said he did not consider it important for candidate states to enter the EU together and at the same time, and that it was only right for the contributions and merit of each nation to be measured individually, noting that no bilateral issue should be a reason to delay anyone's integration.