By Federica Mogherini
We have a clear interest in bringing the entire Balkans inside the European Union and we all know that this is a long process, a complicated one, always interesting and lively, that will take time. It will take a lot of problem solving, a lot of political commitment on all sides, and education. It took 25 years to solve the name issue between Greece and North Macedonia. Now it is done thanks to courage, leadership, perseverance and thanks to the European Union constant support and encouragement. In these years, this has been achieved.
The same is true for all the Balkans. We will need courage, leadership and perseverance, and keeping a very strong daily presence there – every single day. But if we continue to engage, we will finally read the immense opportunities that the unification of our continent could create. Reconciliation first and foremost, because as I said several times, this is probably the only place where enlargement goes back to the original value of the European Union build-up, which is making peace where there was war. This was the original idea of the European Union and for the Balkans, that is it. How can countries that were literally killing each other 20 years ago can come together under the same roof? The answer is under the same roof, being together is the only perspective that can make them really live in reconciliation and peace.
For many of us – and for some of us it is even more important than reconciliation in some cases – economic development, trade and social development, security. This would not just benefit the Balkans, but all of us. We, the European Union, need it also because these are countries that are not outside of our geographical boundaries. They are all neighboring EU Member States so it is not even an issue of enlargement, it is an issue of real reunification of our continent.
This time I think to be wise, consistent and take forward the next step of the unification of our European family. Let me say on a personal note, I am really convinced that if we do not do it, I am sure we would regret it in a few years’ time.