Melescanu gives assurances Romania will give priority to Western Balkans during 2019 Presidency of EU Council

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Minister of Foreign Affairs Teodor Melescanu took part in the Western Balkans ministerial meeting of the Visegrad Group (V4) on Wednesday at the invitation of the Hungarian presidency in office of V4, where he said that Romania would give priority to this region during the EU Council Presidency in 2019.

Along with Romania, also invited from the region were Bulgaria, Slovenia and Croatia. Estonia has also been invited as the state holding the Presidency of the EU Council this half year, informs a press release issued by the Romanian Foreign Affairs Ministry (MAE) for AGERPRES.

The agenda of the meeting focused on concrete ways of supporting the acceleration of the EU enlargement process in the Western Balkans and strengthening cooperation to address security challenges in the region.

In his speech, the Romanian minister stressed the strategic importance of the Western Balkans region and reconfirmed Romania's support for the continuation of the EU enlargement process, based on principle of own merits, pointing out that enlargement is a successful policy of the Union, contributing to the stability, democracy, prosperity and security of the European continent.

Teodor Melescanu welcomed the encouraging messages recently delivered at European level through the speech of the President of the European Commission on the state of the European Union, confirming the "unequivocal" support of the European perspective of the Western Balkan candidate countries and the importance attached to the enlargement policy. The head of the Romanian diplomacy urged the states in the region to "capitalize on this opportunity period by implementing the reform agenda, respecting the set of European values and fulfilling the necessary criteria by the candidate states and potential candidates to advance the process of EU accession," underscores the MAE.

The minister of foreign affairs said in this context that Romania would give priority to the region, including from the perspective of holding the Presidency of the EU Council in the first half of 2019.

He then reiterated Romania's willingness to provide assistance to reform efforts in the region, starting from its own experience, including through the Mobility Fund for Government Experts, as a concrete expression of our country's support.

Referring to the challenges facing the Western Balkans, Minister Melescanu stressed the essential role of regional cooperation as a joint action instrument for the states in the region, as well as the need to strengthen the institutions of the rule of law and resilience in order to be able to deal with external influences.

In this context, the foreign minister expressed satisfaction with Montenegro's recent accession to NATO and pointed out the need to pursue the policy of open doors and to develop cooperation with Western Balkan partners.

The Visegrad Group (V4) was formed on February 15, 1991, due to the desire of the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Republic of Poland and the Slovak Republic to cooperate and coordinate on areas of interest, on the basis of belonging to the same geographical area and sharing common goals.

The cooperation in the Visegrad Group is not institutionalized and is based on periodic meetings of members at different levels. An official meeting of prime ministers and a number of ministerial meetings are held annually, according to the agenda of each Presidency.

After joining the EU, Romania was invited to participate in some ministerial meetings in V4+ format.

Recently, at the level of the foreign minister, Romania participated in the V4 + Eastern Partnership states' meeting (Warsaw, April, 12 2017) and in the V4 + Western Balkans + neighboring countries — Romania, Bulgaria, Italy, Croatia and Slovenia (Warsaw, November 29, 2016). AGERPRES (RO — author: Oana Ghita, editor: Florin Marin; EN — author: Bogdan Gabaroi, editor: Adina Panaitescu)

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