Novi Sad, Serbia, June 19 (SerbiaToday) - The Summit of Central European heads of state entitled "Joint Work on Overcoming the Challenge of the 3 Es - Economy, Energy and European Integration” brought together leaders of 14 European countries.
“I really have no idea what are they doing here, I saw only a lot of police officers in the streets, police cars, lot of security guards. They will probably talk about this and that, but frankly, I don’t know what to expect: improvement in ordinary people’s life or just another high level meeting”, said a middle-age resident of western city of Novi Sad, capital of province of Vojvodina in the dawn of the 16th Summit of Central Europe.
Leaders of 14 European countries gathered to discuss “triple E challenge” – economy, energetic and European integration, problems that strongly affected the region and its transitioning economies. However, heads of states seemed to have fewer dilemmas than the resident mentioned and send message of strong support to Western Balkans countries on their path to EU membership.
Serbian president Boris Tadic said in his opening remarks only ”full integration of the Western Balkans, with Serbia in its center, will bring full stability and security to the European Union".
Slovenia, who was part of former Yugoslavia but now is EU member, stated in favour for swift abolishing EU’s visa regime for Western Balkan countries. EU enlargement and consolidation of the block are two processes which could carry out alongside, said Slovenian President Danilo Türk.
“I wish to stress that Western Balkan states have our full support for their intention to participate in process of European integration”, said Czech President Vaclav Klaus, whose country currently chairs the EU. Enlargement was still on our agenda, he added.
European foreign ministers gave “green light” for suspension of Schengen visa regime for Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia, Monday in Luxemburg. The decision will take effect as of the next year.
Central European leaders also called on for more regional cooperation to combat the world economic crisis and better distribution of energy resources, notably gas supplies.
Most of leaders, including Lech Kaczynski of Poland and Ukrainian leader Viktor Yushchenko, urged better distribution and diversification of energy resources, a reminder of the gas dispute between Ukraine and Russia earlier this year.
European countries should establish a system of common economic support and joint policies on energy security and EU integration, stressed Yushchenko. "We must avoid selfishness and protectionism," he said.
Some leaders underlined the significance of building-out “South Stream” and “Nabucco“ pipelines as well as Pan-European Pipeline from Constanţa (Rumania) via Serbia and Croatia there through Slovenia to Trieste in Italy.
According to Jovan Teokarevic from European Forum, a Belgrade based periodical on European integration, the summit was good opportunity for bilateral talks on disputes emerged after Kosovo self-proclaimed independence in February 2008.
“Summit of itself can’t solve that problems, but gives leaders a chance for direct talks on disputes”, said Teokarevic lokal press.
According to Belgrade media, Albanian President Bamir Topi refused to attend the summit in protest over Serbia’s decision not to invite Kosovo's leader Fatmir Sejdiu. Authorities in Belgrade oppose Kosovo's independence, saying it is part of Serbia.
(16th Summit of Central Europe “Joint Work for Overcoming the Challenges - Economy, Energy and Euro-Integrations”, list of participating countries: Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Italy, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine)