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Ministr Lipavský se zúčastnil vídeňské konference
Photo: © EFW 2024
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Minister Lipavský Discusses EU Enlargement and Cooperation in the Danube Region


On 20-21 June 2024, Minister Lipavský attended several meetings in Austria on EU enlargement and cooperation in the Danube region. The meeting was hosted by his Austrian counterpart Alexander Schallenberg. Guests included EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Joseph Borrell and EU Commissioner for Budget and Administration Johannes Hahn.

"It is in our interest to enlarge the European Union and also to bring countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia and Albania closer to European standards, to share our foreign policy and to reform. This is important for us because enlargement as such brings more security and prosperity. It is one of the strongest tools we have as Europe," said the Czech diplomatic chief.

During Thursday's meeting at the Austrian Foreign Ministry, the ministers discussed cooperation in the Danube region, with an emphasis on support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression. They also supported the efforts of Ukraine, Moldova and the Western Balkan Danube countries to join the European Union. They mentioned the cooperation between the Czech and Austrian emergency medical services as a model example of the cross-border project "EU Strategy for the Danube Region", which enabled a more effective response to the impact of the devastating tornado in South Moravia in 2021. The ministers also adopted a joint declaration condemning, among other things, the Russian aggression against Ukraine and the repeated Russian military attacks on Danube port and storage infrastructure.

On Friday, 21 June, the meeting moved to the Abbey of Göttweig in Lower Austria, where the Friends of the Western Balkans group, consisting of the Czechia, Croatia, Italy, Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia and Greece, was established a year ago. The aim of the group is to continuously support the Western Balkan countries in their integration into the EU. To this end, the members of the group have put forward several concrete proposals within the EU over the past year. Meetings in Gottweig, which were also attended by the foreign ministers of the six Western Balkan countries, focused on deepening EU-Western Balkans cooperation in the area of common foreign and security policy and on further developing the concept of "gradual integration", which is intended to enable the people of the Western Balkans region to experience some of the benefits of EU membership in practice before their country formally joins the Union.

In Göttweig, the ministers also adopted a Joint Appeal for EU enlargement to the Western Balkans, in which they call on the EU leaders who will emerge from the negotiations after the European Parliament elections to make this issue one of their priorities. They also state their belief that internal EU reforms are not a precondition for enlargement, but that the two processes can run in parallel.