Vienna, 12 July 2017 Press release

Austrian Federal Minister Kurz: Strengthened regional cooperation in the Western Balkans important for accession process

Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz attends Trieste Western Balkans Summit

The fourth summit of the “Berlin Process”, launched in 2014, will take place on 12 July in the north Italian town of Trieste. “The Berlin Process is a significant addition to the EU enlargement process and should indicate clearly to the Western Balkan region that the EU attaches great importance to their accession prospects and wishes to actively support the region on this continued bumpy road”, emphasised Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz as he left for the meeting in Trieste. He made particular reference to the process’ objective of fostering regional cooperation in important up-and-coming areas, such as connectivity, economy, youth exchange, dual apprenticeship training, science and civil society.

“The planned creation of a Regional Economic Area will play a particular role at this summit. Such an area would scale up the market available to potential investors and also boost the region’s overall economic attractiveness. A common Regional Economic Area would prepare the Western Balkan states for EU accession”

assured Sebastian Kurz.

The Foreign Minister also referred to the active role assumed by Austria in the Berlin Process, not least by hosting the 2015 summit in Vienna as well as playing an important part in numerous follow-up events. He specifically draw attention to the planned civil society section of the Trieste Summit. “At the Vienna Summit, we brought together for the first time civil society and the decision-makers of the Berlin Process. And so I am pleased that this year’s host has also planned another Civil Society Forum”, underlined Sebastian Kurz. 

German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel initiated the “Berlin Process” in 2014 with the aim of sending a positive signal to the Western Balkan states with regards to their prospects of joining the EU. Following the first Western Balkans Summit in Berlin (2014), further meetings took place in Vienna (2015) and Paris (2016). The participation of the heads of state and government, foreign ministers and ministers of economy from the six Western Balkan states, of the EU institutions and international financial institutions together with Germany, France, Italy, Croatia, Austria, Slovenia and, for the first time, the United Kingdom lend these meetings special political weight.


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