The President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, said that the European Union should review the process of EU membership of the Western Balkan countries. Sassoli made these comments at the opening of the Strategic Forum in Bled, Slovenia, focusing this year on the future of the EU and the Balkans.
Sassoli said that the stability of the EU is being challenged not only by the COVID-19 pandemic but also by other dangers, such as fake news and propaganda coming from abroad. Regarding the membership of the Western Balkan countries in the European bloc, Sassoli said that the EU should review the accession approach as soon as possible. Sassoli reiterated that the European Union should not delay the accession process of the Western Balkan states, as he said other states could increase their influence in the region. Speaking at the forum, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic was critical of the membership process.
Vucic mentioned the case of North Macedonia, which, according to him, everyone in the EU had promised to open membership negotiations in case of resolving the name issue with Greece, but in the end, according to him, the EU did not keep its promise. He said that the same situation is with Albania and the same can happen to Serbia, which he said has made progress in the rule of law.
Regarding the membership of the Western Balkan countries, the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban said that Serbia is geostrategically the main country in the region and that efforts for EU membership should be stepped up.
During the forum discussion, European Parliament President David Sassoli criticized EU countries which he said were unwilling to accept Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban, as did several third countries, including the Western Balkans. Sassoli further said that the European Union can not behave as if the issue of Afghanistan is no longer an issue to be dealt with, as according to him, EU countries have been involved in the war in Afghanistan.
This criticism provoked the reaction of some of the leaders of EU countries. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he supported the decision of EU countries not to accept Afghan refugees.
He said the 2015 decision to accept refugees from Syria had caused the most trouble to his country, Greece, which, according to Mitsotakis, was a victim of the failure of the European Union's own policies.
Kosovo is represented in this forum by the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti. This forum is organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, which is currently the current chair of the European Union. In addition to the leaders of the Balkans, the forum was also attended by leaders of EU countries and European Union structures.