09/18/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/18/2023 11:45
As part of the high-level week of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly underway in New York, Italy's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Antonio Tajani, met today with his counterparts from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, and with the Ministers of Croatia and Slovenia.
"The Western Balkans region is a priority for Italy. Our countries share deep historical ties and we want to further relaunch cooperation in all sectors, starting with the economic one", Tajani noted, stating that "our approach to the challenges of the region is open, inclusive and marked by dialogue".
The Deputy Prime Minister reiterated how important it was to ensure stability in the Balkans and to promote joint action to tackle irregular migration in a more efficient way, fighting human trafficking and the criminal organisations that manage it.
Tajani also stressed how the upcoming appointments on the agenda, in particular the EU-Western Balkans summit to be held in Brussels in December, was an opportunity for dialogue aimed at giving new impetus to the European enlargement process with a definite time horizon. "The Government considers the European integration of the Western Balkans to be of great importance. We are committed to accelerating this process also through gradual integration measures", the Deputy Prime Minister said.
At the proposal of the Minister, it was decided to set up a "Friends of the Western Balkans" working group in both New York and Brussels precisely to promote the European integration of the region.
Again at Tajani's suggestion, it was agreed to organise a meeting in the same ministerial format twice a year, in order to have regular discussions on issues of common interest.
At the end of the meeting, Tajani invited the ministers attending the meeting to take part in the "Med Dialogues" (2-4 November) in Rome. It is the first time that the annual meeting on the enlarged Mediterranean has been extended to include the Western Balkan countries.