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EU Adriatic-Ionian strategy. A welcome decision by the European Council, says Terzi. Strong impetus now needed for closer European integration for Balkans

Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi has welcomed the European Council’s decision regarding the “European Union Strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian Region” to be submitted by the Commission by the end of 2014. That year will also see the Italian Presidency of the EU.

Minister Terzi has personally led the intensive political-diplomatic effort that has made it possible to achieve this important objective. An effort that took concrete and fruitful form in the frequent meetings and bilateral contacts between the foreign minister and his colleagues from other countries adopting the strategy – Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia. Contacts and meetings, too, with the Community institutions.

Numerous ministerial meetings have also been held to promote the Adriatic-Ionian strategy, again with Minister Terzi’s participation. One such meeting was the conference on 23 July 2012 in Brussels, along with the foreign ministers of Greece, Slovenia and Croatia and the Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn. Another was the ministerial meeting of 19 November in Brussels, again with Commissioner Hahn and with all the foreign ministers of the countries signing up to the strategy.

“I am convinced”, stated the Italian foreign minister, “that the Strategy will provide a strong impetus to the European integration of the Balkans countries. It will also create new opportunities in the infrastructure, environment, energy and tourism sectors, with positive repercussions for our enterprises. At the same time, it will incentivise a better use of EU and national funding in these sectors”.

“The Adriatic-Ionian Strategy”, noted Minister Terzi, “effectively combines Italy’s traditional commitment in the Balkans with a new form of territorial cooperation by the European Union”. Terzi also underscored that “Italy is once again promoting the necessary cohesion, based on Community standards and values, in a sensitive region of our continent”.

In coordination with the central and regional government departments and the various regions concerned, the Farnesina has played a leading role in achieving a goal that enjoys broad consensus in the Italian Parliament. A consensus demonstrated by the motions approved, by a large majority, by the Senate of the Republic in January 2012.

The strategy launched today, 14 December 2012, in Brussels follows on, in conceptual terms, from the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative (AII). This inter-governmental instrument, to which the same countries adopting the EU Strategy subscribe, was created at Italy’s prompting over 10 years ago. It bears witness to our country’s far-sighted vision in maintaining, even then, that it is only through regional cooperation that a future of economic growth, political stability and full reconciliation can be guaranteed for the region.

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