The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic hosted a meeting of foreign ministers of the V4 countries and the Western Balkans in the Czernin Palace on Thursday, 27 February 2020. Special guests of the meeting in Prague were the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia in the role of the EU Presidency, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia and the Secretary General of the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs of Austria.
“This meeting of ministers is one of the highlights of the Czech V4 Presidency,” said Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Tomáš Petříček. “Continuing the integration of the Western Balkans with the EU is a long-term priority for the Visegrád Group. I am therefore pleased that European Commissioner Várhelyi also attended today’s meeting and I hope that the EU will finally agree to the start of accession negotiations.”
The main issues discussed were the status of the EU enlargement process and regional cooperation in the Western Balkans. A total of 11 ministers attended the plenary session. Hungary was represented by its Deputy Foreign Minister and Austria by the Secretary General of the MFA.
“The Western Balkans is surrounded by the Member States of the European Union,” Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi said at a press conference after the meeting. “It is in our geostrategic interest to get this region into the EU.”
“Together with our colleagues from the Visegrád Group, we have assured our Balkan colleagues today that we will continue to work towards the full integration of the region into the EU, including the opening of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania,” Minister Petříček said. The ministers of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia summed up their shared approach in a joint statement.
The meeting also included the signing of a memorandum of understanding that will allow the V4 to continue its assistance to the Western Balkans Fund.