Foreign Minister Kurz: Stability in the Western Balkans in our most fundamental interest

Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz participates in Paris Western Balkans Summit

Following the 2014 Western Balkans Summit in Berlin and the Vienna Western Balkans Summit of August 2015, the third Western Balkans Summit is being held in Paris today in the context of the ‘Berlin Process’. 

“The Western Balkans is a region in our immediate vicinity with which we have very close inter-personal, cultural, economic and political ties. Improvement in local quality of life as well as enhancing stability, safety, security and prosperity in the Western Balkans are thus in our most fundamental interest”, Sebastian Kurz pointed out. More than 500,000 of the people with migration background who live in Austria are from the region. Austrian companies have hundreds of branches or subsidiaries in the Western Balkans, which clearly illustrates the very close economic relations.

“Offering a credible EU perspective to the Western Balkan countries is and remains of major importance for Austria”, Sebastian Kurz continued, emphasising that the prospect of EU membership is a driver for decisive, profound reforms in these countries and an important factor for stability – as rapprochement with the EU also requires overcoming contentious political issues. It thus contributes inter alia to improving citizens’ quality of life in the region, while at the same time enhancing the level of legal certainty for Austrian businesses active in the Western Balkans. 

“The Berlin Process, to which Austria continues to contribute most pro-actively, seeks to achieve precisely the same goals as pursued by Austria,” underlined the Foreign Minister on the sidelines of the summit, adding that, “Cross-border infrastructure projects, settlement of bilateral conflicts – on the topic of which we organised a ministerial conference in Vienna this April – economic growth, youth employment, countering radicalisation, managing the migration and refugee crisis and strengthening the role of civil society are among our key priorities”. The objective pursued under the Berlin Process is to improve cooperation between Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Kosovo by way of concrete projects with a view to contributing to overcoming the major challenges these states continue to face on their path towards EU membership. 

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