Federal Minister Kurz: Settlement of bilateral conflicts is a prerequisite for EU accession

High-level expert conference on the resolution of bilateral conflicts in the Western Balkans

Under the Berlin Process, initiated in 2014, the Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs hosted a high-level expert conference on the resolution of bilateral conflicts in the Western Balkans on 25 and 26 April 2016. “It is in Austria’s most fundamental interest to support the Western Balkans countries on their path towards Europe. We must not allow unresolved bilateral disputes to slow down this process and destabilise the region“, Sebastian Kurz stated.

All stakeholders are called upon to build on the successes achieved last year. “By signing a common commitment of the six Western Balkans states and two border agreements on the margins of the Vienna Western Balkans Summit last August, we clearly proved that it is indeed possible to make very concrete progress in this area. A stable environment is very helpful in this context and enables us to also deal with other common challenges – such as the migration crisis, for instance,” the Foreign Minister stressed.

In this connection it is thus absolutely necessary to develop answers to a number of very relevant questions such as: how to ensure that political will is implemented through sustainable solutions; how could a potential toolbox be developed for the resolution of bilateral disputes; how can progress made in this area be monitored and compared.

The two-day seminar thus focused on preparing concrete proposals aimed at providing systematic answers to all these questions.

The conference was concluded with a panel discussion, which was held in the Alois-Mock Hall at the Foreign Ministry on the evening of 26 April and opened by Sebastian Kurz and his Albanian counterpart Ditmir Bushati. With a view to the Western Balkans Summit scheduled for July in Paris, the Vienna conference was organised in cooperation with the French Foreign Ministry, the European Fund for the Balkans, the Karl Renner Institute and the Regional Cooperation Council.

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