Foreign Minister Logar in a web conference with counterparts from the Western Balkans and five EU Member States
Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Anže Logar participated in an audio-video conference of foreign ministers of the Western Balkans – North Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Serbia, foreign ministers of the EU countries bordering the region – Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, and Slovenia, and high representatives of the European Union.
The AVC was convened at the initiative of Nikos Dendias, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, and Nikola Dimitrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of North Macedonia, to exchange views on the role of foreign ministries, and ways of successful cooperation that will be needed in the coming phases of addressing the socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister Logar informed the participants of Slovenia’s successful measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that Slovenia had declared an official end to its coronavirus epidemic on the basis of epidemiological indicators, which show that the spread of the virus is losing intensity. He pointed out that the general and special measures to curb the epidemic remain in effect in Slovenia.
Minister Logar also underlined the importance of European solidarity and regional collaboration in the Western Balkans, and of close cooperation between the countries in the region and the EU, underscoring the coordinated easing of restrictions and the restarting of the European economy.
The ministers pointed out that cooperation between the Western Balkans and the European Union was essential to deal with the crisis caused by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. In this context, they discussed past cooperation and future joint efforts to find solutions to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic and manage cross-border travel and transport, as well as mutual economic support.
They agreed that better connectivity and access to EU markets were essential to strengthen economic integration between the Western Balkans and the EU. In this regard, the European Commission is drafting a joint European Roadmap towards lifting COVID-19 containment measures. The plan also includes strengthened cooperation in most affected sectors. In health, enhanced collaboration between epidemiologists and public health workers is foreseen to tackle the pandemic and prevent future outbreaks.
With regard to transport, the European partners expressed special gratitude to the Western Balkan countries for setting-up “green lanes” or green corridors. For travellers, the borders will open gradually, in line with the development of the epidemiological situation. In tourism, regional coordination will be needed to relaunch tourism and cross-border traffic.
The participants also confirmed their commitment regarding the future of the Western Balkan countries in the EU and expressed their encouragement to North Macedonia and Albania for opening negotiations for full membership, in line with the Council Decision of March 2020.
On this occasion, the foreign ministers issued the Joint Ministerial Statement on COVID-19 Pandemic.