On 16 May, the European Liberal Forum, ALDE Party and the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria hosted The EU Meets the Balkans forum in Sofia, which brought together high-level speakers from across Europe to discuss and debate regional cooperation in the Western Balkans and EU integration in a series of four panels.
During the event, participants discussed Europe’s unprecedented new security challenges and the importance of EU integration of the Western Balkans to ensure and prosperous future. Panellists also covered regional issues such as building stable connectivity in critical areas such as infrastructure, technology, digitalisation and overall security, while developing resilience to emerging risks and threats.
In his opening speech, ALDE Party Co-President Ilhan Kyuchyuk MEP said: “Now we are living in a world that has to be peaceful, that has to ensure wellbeing and prosperity…the EU has to be a Union of opportunities.”
“Now, Kosovo citizens can travel without visa restrictions. Important political steps have been made. The political signal has been given. Albania and North Macedonia are beginning the negotiation process. Bosnia and Herzegovina have received EU candidate status. However, real integration needs to be enhanced,” he added, commenting on challenges remaining for EU integration.
🇪🇺 @ALDEParty Co-President & @RenewEurope MEP @ilhankyuchyuk opened the EU Meets the Balkans Forum. He emphasised that the integration of the Western Balkans is back to the EU agenda following Russia's war in Ukraine.— European Liberal Forum (@EurLiberalForum) May 16, 2023
📺 Watch live: https://t.co/Fl8dLsOBUb pic.twitter.com/GlDQYgUHhZ
Throughout the day, high-level speakers addressed attendees on a range of EU integration topics. Notably, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola remarked: "The EU membership prospect serves as a powerful tool to promote reforms. Both EU and countries in the region will benefit from integrating the Western Balkans."
You can view the event in full on YouTube or below.