Mesić: The entire region of the Western Balkans should be admitted to the EU

– People need to get to know each other, and people with identical problems and interests have a great potential of working together, just like citizens and decision-makers from different municipalities. No matter how you look at it, Europe is a continent of regions. If the regions cooperate well, then the whole continent thrives – said the former president of Croatia Stjepan Mesić in a conversation with the adviser for regional cooperation from NALED, Goran Svilanović, at the conclusion of the first day of the Core Days 2022 conference: Partnership for a more competitive region.

The former president pointed out that he is a big supporter of European partnership, but he believes that a large portion of EU population is afraid of enlargement, because they do not understand what it brings. Europe must unite, and countries must open their borders to obtain a new quality of life for all.

– First of all, if we open all borders, war, as a political tool, can be ruled out. War occurs because the aggressor wants other people’s territory and resources while pretending to protect minorities. If the borders are opened, regulations will be passed for the entire EU centrally, powerful and powerless nations participating in it. Each nation will live in a total cultural corpus. Borders won’t bother anyone. Thus, Europe will become a big player. There are many reasons for our region to be admitted to the EU, but that opinion has not yet prevailed in the union. Maybe these talks will contribute to reaching the decision makers- Mesić said.

According to him, a movement that originates at the local level is necessary, and if the desires and demands of that movement are crystallized, initiatives will more likely pass at the highest levels.

When asked where mistakes were made in the Balkans, Mesić said that the world was not in favor of breaking up Yugoslavia and was, in fact, sentimental towards that country because of its merits in World War II and the formation of the Non-Aligned Movement. “The interest of the world was to maintain it, but the interests of the state were different” Mesić added.

He also assessed that the problem is that in our region, people in positions of power are still focused on events from 30 years ago.

– You have the mayor of Vukovar who rejoices that the number of Serbs in his city has decreased, and the poor man ignores the fact that the number of Croats has also decreased. He runs the city, but he doesn’t understand that the city is shrinking. That’s because he is living in the past. The goal for everyone outside the EU must be the same, but the EU must also give incentives for achieving that goal – concluded Mesić.

The former High Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Wolfgang Petrič, also joined the conversation and assessed that the accession of the countries of the Western Balkans to the European Union will not solve the region’s problems, such as the challenge of people leaving their countries.

– Since Croatia joined the EU, 10% of people have left the country. This is because within the EU people can move freely. It is important to join the EU, but it is not enough. Innovations must be brought to the region. First of all, cooperation. Regional cooperation is of great importance for young people, so they can stay in their countries. Europe will have a greater status in the world only if it unites and becomes a single country. It will not be able to do it otherwise. We need a common foreign policy, an army, and everything that a country has. The territory of Europe must be consolidated. The first important step is the Western Balkans, while much more will be needed for Ukraine – Petrich said.

He also emphasized that two big blocs are emerging in the world, the USA and China. “Europe is in between, and now we don’t need enlargement, but consolidation, which means the inclusion of the Western Balkans.” The countries of the Western Balkans are not enlarging the EU but consolidating it. The enlargement of the EU would imply the inclusion of Ukraine – Petrich said.