The Western Balkans has no alternative future to taking its seat at the same European table together, and the European Union (EU) is incomplete without the region. This was one of the conclusions reached at a panel within an event called the Conference on the Economy - Montenegro 2021, where senior representatives of Central European Initiative (CEI) states discussed Europe's post-pandemic future.
The conference was attended by the prime ministers of Montenegro and Croatia, as well as the heads of delegations of Albania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, North Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Serbia. The panel was moderated by Goran Svilanovic, a former secretary general of the Regional Cooperation Council.
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said that the EU had been facing an incredible crisis for years, and that it was not easy to talk about fast enlargement. His Montenegrin counterpart, Zdravko Krivokapic, said that Montenegro was unable to create projects like the great powers, because, as he said, the country did not have the capacity to do so.
Vladimir Maric, an assistant to the Serbian foreign minister, said that it was important that the pandemic had incited the development of science, in which Serbia had invested in substantially, alongside the development of the four freedoms that the EU rested on. According to the Serbian official, the Open Balkans Initiative does not annul individual efforts to join the Union, but could accelerate the process.