The democratic and economic development of South-Eastern Europe depends on the region’s nations sharing a common vision of the importance of stability, tolerance and cooperation, the leaders of four Balkan countries stressed in speeches today to the United Nations General Assembly.
Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Montenegro also spoke of their efforts to either become future members of the European Union (EU) and other regional organizations or to achieve the standards set by those groups on such issues as democracy and human rights.
Addressing the Assembly’s annual debate, Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader said his country has worked hard since its birth little more than a decade ago to boost ties with its neighbours on political and economic issues.
He described Croatia’s bid for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council in 2008-09 as a sign of its regional responsibility, while a victory in the contest would be “a telling demonstration of the success of the peace process in South-East Europe.”
Adnan Terzic, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said his country was not deterred by talk of “enlargement fatigue” within the EU and was busy working towards embracing the organization’s standards and norms.
But he said the Dayton peace accord that ended the war in 1995 and set up the nation’s current structure also had its disadvantages, such as its failure “to provide for every citizen to enjoy equal rights anywhere in the country, or for the State to be able to exercise its powers of a State – of a modern, multi-ethnic State.”
Alfred Moisiu, President of Albania, said membership of the EU and bodies such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) represent “a natural part of the move for development, rather than objective for objective’s sake.”
He said the future status of Kosovo remained the biggest unresolved issue in the region, and called for the province to become a “sovereign, independent, democratic and multi-ethnic State.”
Milo Djukanovic, the Prime Minister of Montenegro, the UN’s newest Member State, said “regional cooperation is inseparable from European and global integration, which are essentially about issues of peace, stability, security and prosperity.”
Mr. Djukanovic argued that the key issues of today, from terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to environmental threats and poverty, transcended borders and highlighted the need for a common approach between countries.