Poznan hosts talks on the European perspective for the Western Balkans
On 5 July, the Western Balkans Summit ended in Poznan, marking the highlight of the Polish presidency of the Berlin Process in 2019. Initiated by Germany, the Berlin Process is aimed at bringing together the Western Balkans partners and some of the European Union Member States.
“Poland decided to join the Berlin Process because we are strongly convinced that it brings an added value to the European Union-Western Balkans relations,” stressed Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. He went on to say that Poland shares with the Western Balkans its experiences in building efficient state and local government institutions, sound tax authorities and in combating corruption. “We seek to promote and develop infrastructure linking the North with the South and connecting the region, to bolster trade and investment opportunities, because we firmly believe that this is the best way to integrate the Western Balkans and the whole Eastern Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, as the second lung of the European Union, the second lung of Europe,” said the prime minister.
During the Leaders’ Summit, which took place today, the Berlin Process heads of government discussed major issues for the Western Balkans region. President Andrzej Duda opened the plenary session, and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki hosted the meeting. The summit brought together the prime ministers of the Western Balkans countries, the German chancellor, the prime ministers of France, Great Britain, Croatia, and Slovenia, the chancellor of Austria, and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The session was also attended by the presidents of key European economic and financial institutions – the OECD, the EIB, the EBRD and the heads of regional institutions from the Western Balkans – the RCC (Regional Cooperation Council) and RYCO (Regional Youth Cooperation Office).
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that Central European states have a unique experience in the field of transformation, systemic reforms, and the reconciliation process between nations. “On the one hand, I would like us to score successes, and on the other I would like us to diagnose in which areas there is still room for improvement. First and foremost I would like us to set new ambitious goals, a road map, and to take on further commitments,” said the prime minister during the opening of the plenary session. The leaders unanimously confirmed the European perspective for the Western Balkans, and relevant note was taken in the presidency conclusions. The leaders reaffirmed their will to deepen cooperation in higher education, research, entrepreneurship, and local government collaboration. President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki also expressed their willingness to support the region by sharing our experiences and emphasized that both the Berlin Process and the Three Seas Initiative reflect our growing commitment to the region.
On Thursday 4 July, plenary sessions were held in the following formats: foreign ministers, ministers for economic affairs and ministers for domestic affairs. Minister Jacek Czaputowicz chaired discussions of the Berlin Process foreign ministers. They focused on the European perspective of the Western Balkans partners and the Berlin Process’ role in supporting their European aspirations. The Civil Society Forum was also part of the event, offering NGOs a platform for exchange of experiences and cooperation. Another gathering was the Business Forum, which aimed at helping entrepreneurs to network and upskill. Joint session of foreign ministers and representatives of the civil society organizations was dedicated to regional cooperation and the role that these organizations may play in its consolidation.
Yesterday, Deputy Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk signed agreements between Poland and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank to provide financial support for infrastructural projects implemented in the Western Balkans region as part of the Western Balkans Investment Framework. As a follow-up to the agreements signed yesterday, the prime ministers of five Western Balkans countries and Bulgaria signed today a Memorandum to establish a Regional Research Institute.
The series of events held in Poznan started on 3 July with a Think Tank Forum, which allowed experts and other guests from the region to discuss European aspirations of the Western Balkans, challenges facing the European enlargement policy and the future of the Berlin Process.
MFA Press Office
Photo: Tymon Markowski/MFA