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Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Western Balkans

Durres, 31 March 2016

The meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Western Balkan countries was held in Durres, in the presence of EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic Lubomir Zaoralek as chairman in office of the Visegrad Group (V4), French Secretary of State  Harlem Desir, the Italian Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Vincenzo Amendola and Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council Goran Svilanovic.

Countries in the region reiterated the commitment to create the necessary synergy to advance in the European integration process, towards a higher level of cooperation, in the service of democracy, security, stability and prosperity in the Western Balkans.

Foreign ministers of the region, the European Commission and EU member states attending the meeting expressed their firm commitment to the ‘Berlin Process’ and the agenda of regional interconnection, as a key factor for economic growth and impact on generating new job opportunities in the Western Balkans.

Apart from talks on mechanisms how to boost regional cooperation under the EU enlargement process in the region, importance was attached to further steps that will enable new regional connection projects to be endorsed in the upcoming summit of the Berlin Process, to be held in Paris.

At the meeting, talks also dwelt on measures for the establishment of the Western Balkan Fund, as a new dimension of regional cooperation, focused on enhancing people-to-people contacts as a basic requirement for a reinforced connectivity in the Western Balkans.

In this respect, the Durres Declaration underline:

“The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Western Balkans expressed their gratitude to the Visegrad Group and International Visegrad Fund for the support to the WBF and confirm our engagement for the continuation of such cooperation between the Western Balkans and the Visegrad Group and also for the role and relentless support from the Czech Presidency of the V4.

During the meeting there was a commitment to work for a speedy ratification process of the Agreement for the establishment of the WBF, respective of the individual legal procedures of each WBF participant, and encourage the Western Balkans Fund designated Executive Director and the National Coordinators to continue their work for the preparation of the legal documents of the Fund and the creation of its Secretariat, by using the necessary expertise and funds in supporting the preparatory phase”.