Zovko: As an equidistant player in the Western Balkans, the EU should take up its role and act accordingly

Brussels/Split 20 April 2020

At the latest meeting of the Committee of Foreign Affairs (AFET), EPP Vice Coordinator Željana Zovko participated in a discussion with High Representative and Vice President of the Commission Josep Borrell about the implications of COVID-19 for the external action of the EU and about the joint communication on the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy. The members also adopted the European Parliament recommendations on the Western Balkans, in the run-up to the 2020 summit and a resolution on Guidelines for the 2021 Budget.

In the discussion with HRVP Borrell, Zovko, together with other EPP colleagues, stated that the EU has to be a credible partner for the Western Balkans in the fight against disinformation about the pandemic and beyond. Zovko also emphasised that the EU should increase its efforts in the facilitation of the Priština – Belgrade dialogue and the Bosnia and Herzegovina issue. “Since it has the most interest for peace and stability of the region, the EU should finally take up its role as equidistant player,” Zovko said. “This means that the EU should respect the viewpoints of all interested parties at the table, and support the weakest.”

Zovko also welcomed the adoption of the recommendations on the Western Balkans in the run-up to the 2020 summit. “The Zagreb Summit on the Western Balkans is the main event organised by the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Although the current pandemic doesn’t bring any certainty when the Summit will take place, Croatia brought the European relations with the Western Balkans back on the top of the EU’s agenda.” Zovko stated. This Summit allows to take into account Croatia’s interest in the region as most affected frontier state by the ongoing and potential instability in the region due to external influences and local unsustainable designs. “With the adopted recommendations, the European Parliament also contributes by calling for a constructive and integrative approach towards the region that strengthens their path to a European Perspective,” she concluded. 

The adopted recommendations also include several amendments of Zovko. Among other issues, these amendments focus on the need to base the European support on lessons learnt in order to avoid earlier shortcomings and to improve the accession process and to uphold the democratic accountability by ensuring the full involvement of the European Parliament in scrutiny, oversight and strategic steering of the design, programming and monitoring and evaluation of financial support to the region through programmes such as IPA III, a file that Zovko follows closely as she is the co-rapporteur.

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