May 7, 2020 - The EU-Western Balkans Summit was held via video link on Wednesday, hosted by the President of the Council of Europe, Charles Michel, Prime Minister of Croatia, currently presiding over the EU, Andrej Plenkovic, and the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. The main topics of the conference gathering leaders of the Western Balkans and top EU officials were the fight against the coronavirus and the European future of the region.
Leaders of the six Western Balkan countries and EU member countries have been discussing issues related to cooperation in the fight with the Covid-19 pandemic and its consequences. The participants also accepted the Zagreb Declaration. As stated in the lead of the document, the Declaration is another confirmation of the EU's "strong solidarity with our partners in the context of the coronavirus crisis.
High ranking Addressing the group, President of Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, said that Brussels's help and support proved that the EU's solidarity didn't stop at its borders and that this was a testament to European unity. He stressed that the Balkans shouldn't be left to third parties. Djukanovic also said it was time for the EU to assume a new position on the global scene, through strengthening stability and finishing the process of European enlargement.
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said that the EU was ready to support reform and the EU integration efforts of its neighboring countries. The Croatian government said that the EU would support the six Western Balkan countries in the fight against Covid-19 and that the European Commission (EC) was preparing a significant economic aid package, which will coincide with Western Balkan country progress reports.
The President of the Council of Europe, Charles Michel, stressed that it was important for the countries of the region to continue with reforms, the strengthening of the rule of law, adherence to democratic values and the fight against corruption, which he said was crucial for the Western Balkans' European future.