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Greater and Better EU: 20 years from Thessaloniki Summit 

October 13, 2023 by BSC


The last panel of the Belgrade Security Conference 2023 titled “Greater and Better EU: 20 years from Thessaloniki Summit” was moderated by Milica Delević, Director for Competitiveness, Governance and Political Affairs, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and was focused on discussing the challenges of the future of the enlargement process and the new candidates’ readiness for the membership. 



Tetyana Kovtun, Executive Director, Reforms Delivery, Office of the Cabinet of Minister of Ukraine, stressed that the EU enlargement was an existential issue for Ukraine and that the aim of this process was to remain sovereign and independent. Kovtun pointed out that the support for EU integration inside Ukraine increased over the last few years and that even though Ukraine is at the beginning of its EU accession process, it hopes that the negotiations will be opened this December. She also noted that Ukraine will continue its fight for EU values.  



H.E. Emanuele Giaufret, Ambassador and Head of the Delegation of European Union to the Republic of Serbia, stated that the enlargement question had never been more imperative since the Thessaloniki Summit, as a result of Ukrainian suffering, and that the Western Balkans had a huge opportunity. He expressed the need for parallel deepening and widening of integration and stressed that the objective of the European enlargement had two aspects: it is a geostrategic decision, but it is also about providing people with a better life. The Ambassador continued by stating that this could only be achieved “if the citizens understand the specific moment in which we live”.  



Jovana Marović, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of European Affairs, Republic of Montenegro, emphasised that the new momentum for the Western Balkans meant business as usual˝ since she did not see the political will to seize the moment. She stated that it was not possible to have deadlines in the EU enlargement, but that it was possible to have roadmaps. She added that she believed that Montenegro could be ready for accession by 2030, but that there was only one enlargement process which meant that all candidates should help each other.  



Vladimir Međak, Member of the Main Board, European Movement in Serbia, said that the EU was currently thinking about things that the civil society and experts had been talking about for five to six years. He continued by saying that this particular enlargement would need to have out-of-the-box solutions since regular ones are not working. Međak raised the question of the role of media controlled by the regime in influencing public opinion on the EU and added that “what the population thinks about the EU is what the government wants them to think”.