Karel Fürst zu Schwarzenberg
Rede auf der 45. Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz - 06.02.2009
|Redner:||Fürst zu Schwarzenberg, Karel |
|Land / Organisation:||Tschechische Republik|
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
The first month of our EU Presidency has shown what we have always suspected: Implementing the chosen priorities is only a small part of the EU business. In the last weeks we have to face the simultaneous challenges of the crisis in Gaza, escalation of tension between Russia and Ukraine resulting in interruption of the gas supplies and spreading impacts of the financial crisis on European industries. I would like to underline, however, that we are not loosing the focus on the Western Balkans.
This region has been originally chosen as one of the three external relations priorities of the Czech presidency. Some countries may feel that the countries of the Western Balkans are not doing enough to be integrated into the EU quickly. And the Western Balkan countries may feel uncomfortable by these constant reminders. The danger of this approach may be obvious only when it is too late, when the discouraged and frustrated region falls apart and gets into yet another serious crisis. This development may serve well to some external interests, but hardly those of the Western Balkan people.
Good examples appeal. It is obvious to everybody that Croatia progressed enormously ever since the accessions talks have been opened. Let us open the way for more positive examples! Let us keep broader perspectives and work for a vision of the Balkan region that is in 2014 finally peaceful, complete and fully integrated in Europe. If the 20th century started in Sarajevo in 1914 let it end in the same city 100 years later!
Last December Montenegro applied for the EU membership. We welcomed this decision as an opportunity to refocus our attention to the region and give a fresh impetus to the integration process. We regret that our sentiment is not shared universally. It is no doubt that Montenegro must work hard before it becomes EU member. But its accession is not a question for tomorrow. We feel disappointed that the standard and technical procedures that merely open the way for assessing the application are being delayed by political considerations that have little to do with the actual performance of the applicant.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Lets remind us that the European Council agreed already in 2003 that the future of the Western Balkans lied within the EU. Therefore it is not the question “if?” but only “when?” and “how?” Blaming the enlargement for the lost referenda is not fair. I am sure we have enough courage not to seek external alibis for our own setbacks. European project may have different enemies but the enlargement is not one of them. We all know that other countries, like for example Iceland, may apply. Are we ready to tell Iceland that there is an enlargement fatigue and no Lisbon Treaty and therefore the application cannot be processed this year? If not, how can we explain to Montenegro and other Balkan countries that have been in the Stabilisation and Association process for years that there are no double standards? How we can explain to Albania who is going to become a NATO member in April that it should not apply now?
The EU is not a mere economic organisation. It is a political project reuniting European nations, in which the respect to certain values is the cornerstone. It is only natural that we insist on potential candidate to disavow from its own war criminals. There is no room to compromise on the principle. I believe however that it is more effective to do it not only by pressure but also by engagement. We need to find an appropriate mix of sticks and carrots to reach our goals. There is no question in my mind that the current Serbian leadership is committed to the same goal as well.
Knowing the long and heroic history of Serbia I understand that Kosovo independence represents a particularly painful experience to Serbia. Let us not forget however that the very foundation of the European integration was laid on painful war experiences, compromises and reconciliation of former enemies. Serbia and Kosovo must walk this difficult path for themselves if they want to move forward.
I believe that if we can achieve a breakthrough in the EU-Serbian relationship it would accelerate the dynamic of EU integration within the whole region. At the same time, I want to reassure you that keeping further progress hostage would be against the EU agreed policies and best practices that respect individual erits of each potential candidate.
The enlargement agenda in the Western Balkans is broad. It concerns people, businesses and governments alike. Apart from dealing with individual countries we need to use also the great potential of the region as a whole. There are possibilities of the horizontal integration in the area of trade, energy, transport, environment protection, and others. The recent gas crisis showed vividly how fragile and how dependent on the European cooperation the region is. When the supply of the Russian Gas was cut off it was the gas supplied by Hungary and Germany that heated houses in Belgrade and Sarajevo.
Another issue that is critical for the region is visa liberalisation. Free travelling is the best way to achieve lasting reconciliation between the people of the Western Balkans and enhance their adhesion to the European values. From our own experience after November 1989, I must confirm that students and young professionals with international experience become the engine of progress of our society. Therefore we wish to advance the visa liberalisation process and hope that tangible progress is possible already this year provided all technical requirements are met.
Let me express my concern and regret in respect to one particular phenomenon. That is the growing interference of unresolved bilateral issues with the EU integration policy. Disagreements and controversies between neighbours are fact of life. We can observe, however, that the EU enlargement policy is being taken hostage of these bilateral disputes. This practice has nothing to do with the idea of EU values that we cherish. While becoming EU and NATO members, recently or some time ago, we were joining a vision based on inclusiveness and common interests. Sacrificing these shared ideals to bilateral quarrels is a 19th or 20th century practise. Let us demonstrate in practice that we are true 21st century Europeans!
Ladies and gentlemen,
I have dedicated most of my speech to the Western Balkans´ candidates and potential candidates to the EU membership. It is now time to address a particular issue of Kosovo, not least because I am preparing the floor for the next speaker. I wish to make clear that the European perspective apply to all of the Western Balkans, including Kosovo. Regardless of the still lacking consensus of all EU member states on recognition of its independence, it should be stated clearly that Kosovo´s future is within the EU. This is important for peace, stability and prosperity of the whole region. We need to do our part of the work for achieving this goal. It is however Kosovo government’s own responsibility to transform the country in to a modern multiethnic democracy that gives no room to corruption and organized crime.
We are happy that Kosovo is from now on master of its own future. We expect it however to assume also its share of responsibility for finding a way to a definite parting with the shadows of the past and establishing best possible neighbourly relations all of your neighbours, with Serbia in the first place. I wish to you Mr. President and to your people best luck in tackling these difficult challenges and leading the country towards a peaceful and prosperous future.
Es gilt das gesprochene Wort!