The EU Special Envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak described the former Mini Schengen (now Open Balkan) initiative as “unhealthy competition” with the European integration process, in a statement issued to Radio Free Europe (REL).
Other sources in Brussels have reiterated the position previously held by the EU, that regional cooperation is always welcome, but in this case, the project remains deficient, as long as it is limited only to Albania, Serbia, and Macedonia.
They add that the countries of the region should fulfill their regional obligations, which derive from existing agreements, not in projects that bring disruption to the region.
“There should be more political will, readiness, and courage to implement existing agendas than in initiatives, which could provoke new divisions,” REL quoted diplomatic sources in Brussels as saying.
Brussels recalls that there already exits a Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA), a regional trade integration agreement, a Sarajevo-based Regional Cooperation Council, a Belgrade-based regional transport community, and several other EU-supported initiatives.
It’s reported that the Bloc seeks “the creation of a common regional market, in accordance with the rules of the European Union, which was a political obligation from the joint EU-Balkans summit in Sofia.”
The German government has taken a similar stance, demanding an agreement on the Regional Common Market Action Plan by October 6th.
Prime Minister Rama interpreted a similar EU statement on August 11th as showing support for Open Balkan.