Southeast Europe Sets 2020 EU Membership Deadline

Ministers have called for furthering regional cooperation and European Union membership by 2020.

Foreign ministers and senior officials of 12 participant countries of the Ministerial Meeting of the South East Europe Cooperation Process, SEECP, said in Belgrade on Thursday that regional cooperation had brought long-term benefits and expressed the belief that all countries should become EU members by 2020.

The deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, Ali Babacan, said that significant steps had been made when it comes to the region's integration into the EU, pointing to the fact that Croatia should become the 28th member in 2013.

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"I hope that Croatia will soon be followed by the accession of other countries as well, despite enlargement fatigue and the economic crisis," Babacan said at the meeting.

The ministers welcomed the election of Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic as president of the UN General Assembly, UNGA.

They also supported the nomination of Serbia's Goran Svilanovic for the office of secretary general of the Regional Cooperation Council, RCC.

“We should pass on a recommendation for the selection of Svilanovic,” Zlatko Lagumdzija, Bosnia's Foreign Minister, said.

The Regional Cooperation Council endorsed at its meeting in Belgrade on Wednesday the nomination of Svilanovic as the next RCC secretary general.

Svilanovic's official election as RCC secretary general is expected on Friday at the summit of heads of state or government of SEECP.

The SEECP was launched at a meeting of Southeast European foreign ministers in Sofia in 1996, for the purpose of strengthening relations between the region's countries and transforming the region into a zone of peace, security, stability and cooperation.

SEECP members include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Greece, Croatia, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Slovenia, Serbia and Turkey.
Balkan Insight