From: Alice Taylor
German MEP Criticises Western Balkan Summit for Hypocrisy and Empty Words

German MEP Viola von Cramon has harshly criticized the recent EU-Western Balkan Summit held in Brdo, Slovenia on October 6.

Speaking in the European Parliament on Thursday, she said that the promise made to the Western Balkans in 2003 regarding enlargement, has never seemed so distant. She also referred to the summit as “a parade of hypocrisy, empty words, autocratic appeasement, and above all, pretence.”

She called for a “fundamentally different Western Balkan policy” from the European Parliament plenary.

Amongst her demands were granting visa liberalization for Kosovo, opening accession talks immediately with Albania and North Macedonia, and reinforcing the EU presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“The Western Balkans is not our neighbourhood, it is our inner-yard. It is a region that means so much for the EU as we share so much together,’ she said, adding that ‘If the European Union cannot play a pivotal role there, then our dream of becoming a geopolitical Union is indeed just a dream.”

Bulgaria Could Lift North Macedonia Veto by November Pending Three Conditions

The summit took place amid the region’s fading hopes of EU integration. Albania’s accession, tied to that of North Macedonia, was thwarted by a Bulgarian veto over cultural and ethnic issues. Leaders of countries in the region, including Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, have been critical of the decision.

Yet, despite EU and Western Balkan leaders coming together in one place over two days, not one single concrete result came out of it. Leaders renewed their pledge to enlargement, but no timescale was given, leaving the entire Western Balkans’ dream of EU accession in limbo.

While the European Commission has said it hopes to have the first intergovernmental conference—which marks the official opening of negotiations—by Christmas, the reality is it will be hard to convince all Member States.