Split, Croatia, September 28, 2019 – Her Excellency Ms. Andreja Metelko-Zgombić, State Secretary for European Affairs of the Republic of Croatia, welcomed in her keynote speech the participants to the 39th workshop of the Partnership for Peace Consortium (PfPC) Study Group “Regional Stability in Sout East Europe” (RSSEE). The PfPC, the Austrian National Defence Academy and the Zagreb-based Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO) hosted this event and gathered more than 30 participants from governments, international organizations, academic institutions and the civil society from the Western Balkans.
The workshop focused on “Croatia’s Upcoming EU Presidency – A Catalyst for South East Europe?” The Republic of Croatia is about to assume its first Presidency of the EU Council in January 2020. It is an extraordinary opportunity for the EU’s youngest member state to substantially contribute to various EU policies by setting adequate and implementable priorities for this period and undertaking all necessary activities to put them into practice.
One of the regions where the Croatian Presidency of the EU Council will undoubtedly invest special effort is South East Europe (SEE)/the Western Balkans (WB). The countries in Croatia’s south-eastern neighborhood are still coping with serious transitional problems, failing to meet even some basic standards for EU membership. On the other hand, the shape of the EU itself in the immediate post-election period, burdened with serious strategic challenges, does not offer too many reasons for optimism when it comes to further enlargement in the forthcoming period.
The workshop aimed at analyzing and discussing to what extent the Croatian Presidency of the EU Council can be a catalyst for the further reform process in the region that could potentially foster the EU and NATO integration process and lead to the resolution of pending issues and long-term consolidation of this part of Europe.