On 14 and 15 November, Austrian Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Linhart travelled to Montenegro and Albania.
“This trip once again reaffirms Austria’s commitment to assisting the Western Balkan region on its path to EU membership. We welcome Commission President Juncker’s recent promise of a new strategy for the Western Balkan states’ efforts to join the EU. During the Austrian EU presidency, we wish to take advantage of this impetus to drive forward reforms in the region and thus make headway in the EU enlargement process. Cooperation and good neighbourly relations within the region need to be boosted further”,
said Michael Linhart.
In Podgorica, Deputy Foreign Minister Linhart met for talks with, among others, Foreign Minister Srdjan Darmanović, Minister of European Affairs Aleksandar Andrija Pejović and Secretary of State for Political Affairs Zoran Jankovic. He also met businesspersons from Austria. In Tirana, Deputy Foreign Minister Linhart met Albanian President Ilir Meta, Deputy Prime Minister Senida Mesi and the Secretary General of the Foreign Ministry Gazmend Barbullushi. He also met the leader of the oppositional Democratic Party, Lulzim Basha. The talks focused on both countries’ efforts to join the EU, the Berlin process, regional cooperation and developments in the region as well as on each country’s respective plan of action drawn up with Austria. Topical issues such as migration and radicalisation as well as economic issues were also discussed.
Representing the Austrian OSCE Chairmanship, Deputy Foreign Minister Linhart visited the OSCE field operations in Montenegro and Albania and was briefed by the respective heads of mission on the OSCE’s work on the ground. “The field operations make up an important part of what the OSCE is. They provide valuable and needs-based support for both countries’ reform efforts, for example, in areas such as the rule of law and the freedom of the media, and therefore play a crucial role in both countries’ efforts to become EU members”, stressed Michael Linhart.