The Western Balkans are a priority for the Italian Government, “because they are Europe”. This was stated by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Antonio Tajani, speaking at the Dubrovnik Forum 2023 held on July 7th and 8th in Croatia. Tajani recalled that Italy will host a trilateral meeting on July 10th in Ancona, involving the Foreign Ministers of Croatia and Slovenia. “The Austrian Foreign Minister is also invited, in order to develop a common strategy to have more European presence in the Balkans”, Tajani noted. Regarding Ukraine, he stated “of course we support full accession to the EU, but we also want the same for the other countries of the Western Balkans. This is our commitment”. The Minister also recalled how the Italian military is involved in ensuring stability in the Bosnia and Herzegovina region and along the Serbia-Kosovo border.
Vice-Premier Tajani spoke at the opening session of the Forum together with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, EU High Representative Josep Borrell, Council of Europe Secretary General Maria Pecinovic-Buric, and Croatian Parliament President Gordan Jandroković. Kosovo’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Donika Gërvalla-Schwarz, was also present at the summit.
“We are facing significant challenges for security and peace”, commented Minister Tajani, “challenges that come from all directions and that we have a joint responsibility to address. I think, for example, of the Mediterranean, a priority area for Italian foreign policy, where we play a leading role as a bridge between Europe and the countries on the southern shore. Our goal is to contribute to stability and prosperity among all countries in the area”.
On the sidelines of the proceedings, Vice-Premier Tajani met, among others, the Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue, Miroslav Lajčák. In a tweet, commenting on the meeting, Lajčák wrote: “Italy is an important partner to the Western Balkans and I am thankful for the support to my mandate and work. I briefed Minister Tajani on the situation in the Dialogue and the steps needed for de-escalation and return to the Dialogue. Looking forward to continue working together”.