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Strong Support

Matjaž Han, Slovenian Minister Of Economic Development And Technology

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Slovenia is actively engaged in facilitating the swift expansion of the EU to include the Western Balkans. However, the pace of this convergence is ultimately in the hands of each individual member state

The Republic of Slovenia set the expansion of EU membership in the Western Balkans as one of its priorities upon entering the EU, says Matjaž Han, Slovenian Minister of Economic Development and Technology, with whom we spoke exclusively for this issue.

Han points out that it was for this purpose that Slovenia, together with the Republic of Croatia, initiated the Brdo-Brioni process in 2013, representing an annual multilateral meeting of Western Balkan leaders aimed at identifying solutions for the European Union’s expansion to encompass the Western Balkan countries.

Slovenia’s commitment to facilitating EU expansion to encompass the Western Balkans is a cornerstone of regional collaboration, reflecting the country’s dedication to advancing collective interests

Slovenia also highlighted EU expansion to the Western Balkans as a priority during its recent presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2021. And it was during this period that it organised and hosted a series of events addressing this topic.

“At the strategic level of the Western Balkans, the Republic of Slovenia is doing everything in its power to facilitate a swift expansion. However, the pace of convergence lies within the domain of each individual member state, which must still meet the standards and conditions required to start negotiations,” says Han.

Business people shaking hands together

According to our interlocutor, cooperation among Western Balkan countries is at a satisfactory level and thus fosters deepened collaboration, particularly in the economic sphere.

Each country, whether in the Western Balkans or not, must consider numerous factors when setting economic priorities – ranging from natural resources, geostrategic position and future development plans, to limitations in accessing various markets, adds Han.

Cooperation among the Western Balkan countries has reached a commendable level, particularly within the economic sphere. This collaborative atmosphere supports deeper cooperation and coordination

“However,” he explains, “certain areas of economic development and tourism could offer opportunities for faster economic convergence with the EU for Western Balkan countries, especially in areas like the European Green Deal, Europe fit for the digital age, An economy that works for people, A stronger Europe in the world, Promoting our European way of life, A new push for European democracy, Digitalisation and Artificial Intelligence and Mobility.”∙

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