We need constructive dialogue, solidarity and re-engagement to address the challenges and the European perspective of the region. This was the overall message expressed by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and High-level representatives of the CEI Member States at their Annual Meeting (MFA) held on 23 June under the topic "Shaping Europe’s Future, Building Prosperous Region: Enlargement, Rapprochement, Recovery“.
Foreign Minister Đorđe Radulović - who opened the meeting under the Montenegrin CEI Presidency - underlined that regional cooperation seemed to be the most powerful tool in fighting the impacts of the COVID-19 and that the CEI’s solid support was crucial especially concerning the EU perspective of the Region.
“Building cooperative links towards integration, sustainable development and recovery, along the values of security, stability and solidarity, is a strong antidote to the resurgence of nationalism and the potential creation of dividing lines in Europe”, said Secretary General Roberto Antonione. He added that that promoting concepts such as sustainability, inclusiveness, local development, also through an effective parliamentary cooperation, was deeply rooted in the work of the Initiative and its Secretariat, and that joint actions would be promoted in particular to meet the needs of young people.
The Ministers then touched upon the key steps and processes with a potential to speed up the EU accession of the Western Balkans, and on the need to increase relations with the Eastern Partnership countries, based on shared values and standards. They welcomed, to this end, a constructive exchange between EU and non-EU CEI Member States, appreciating, in particular, the strong support provided by the EU CEI countries in this endeavour. In this context, there were high expectations for the results of upcoming EU-Western Balkans summit and the Eastern Partnership summit taking place in October and December 2021 respectively.
In light of the ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, participants also stated that working together to better respond to threats through reinvigorated and effective multilateralism, also at the regional level was crucial. The CEI- WHO/EUROPE cooperation was particularly praised as a tool capable of stepping up regional coordination and thus mitigating the impact of the pandemic; the overall CEI activities towards tackling current challenges were also strongly appreciated.
The gathering also witnessed the presence of the EU Commission, the WHO, the EBRD and regional organisations.
The Communiqué endorsed at the Meeting welcomed possibilities for further cooperation initiatives tackling health, environment, science, youth, as well as economic and local dimensions.
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