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Alfano: «Reconciliation in the Balkans, for a more secure Europe» (Corriere della Sera)

In an epoch of global challenges, requiring everybody to make a concerted effort, the reunification of the continent is a strategic investment for peace, security and democracy. This is the spirit of today’s Trieste Summit in which, at the presence of the Heads of State and Government, we will discuss key issues for the future of our citizens with our colleagues from the Western Balkans.

On the basis of the conclusions of the European Council March meeting and of the Declaration of Rome that issued from the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Rome Treaties, we will confirm that the gates to Europe remain open to the Countries that share its values and we will work to accompany the European accession process of the Western Balkans.

We will ask our Balkan friends to make a strong commitment to pursue the consolidation of democratic institutions, enforce the rule of law, and develop a modern and competitive economy. It is necessary to gap internal divisions and settle past recriminations in order to be able to irreversibly choose the European option. Only through dialogue and by giving new momentum to the reconciliation process will it be possible to look at the future with optimism. It is no longer time for hesitation but rather to firmly decide which side of the field to play on.    

The Trieste Summit is the fourth lap, after Berlin, Vienna and Paris, of a process that was launched with great foresight by Chancellor Merkel to promote the democratic transition, economic and cohesive, of the Western Balkans.

Let us work together to obtain tangible results:

1) approve a sizable package of new infrastructure projects in the sector of energy and transportation with an allocation of half a billion euros, following up on the first construction sites that were opened pursuant to the projects approved at the preceding summits;

2) establish a tighter regional economic integration with a view to tapping the potential of a 20-million-people market;

3) sign the Treaty establishing the Transportation Community, so as to create an integrated space in terms of technical standards and regulations;

4) strongly stimulate the development of the private sector and especially of SMEs;

5) reinforce the capacity to prevent and repress corruption;  

6) drawing inspiration from the 30th anniversary of the Erasmus programme, expand the opportunities offered to the new generations, also thanks to the coming into full operation of the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO).

We also intend to lay the grounds for closer cooperation in fighting terrorism and radicalisation and in tackling uncontrolled migration flows managed by groups of criminals. These are important objectives that testify to our will to accompany the Western Balkans towards the fundamental goal of completing their accession to Europe but also reveal their will to take hold of the reins of their own future. From the magnificent city of Trieste, which I wholeheartedly thank for the welcome, I am sure we will witness the rising of a strong signal finally in favour of a common fate.

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