We the Heads of State or Government of the member States of the European
Union, the acceding and candidate states, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro,
as potential candidates, and the President of the European Commission,
in the presence of the President of the European Parliament, the Secretary
General of the Council/High Representative, the Special Representative
of the UN Secretary General in Kosovo, the Special Co-ordinator of the
Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe and the High Representative
for Bosnia and Herzegovina, meeting in Thessaloniki, agreed today on
We all share the values of democracy, the rule of law, respect for human
and minority rights, solidarity and a market economy, fully aware that
they constitute the very foundations of the European Union. Respect
of international law, inviolability of international borders, peaceful
resolution of conflicts and regional co-operation are principles of
the highest importance, to which we are all committed. We vigorously
condemn extremism, terrorism and violence, be it ethnically, politically
or criminally motivated.
The EU reiterates its unequivocal support to the European perspective
of the Western Balkan countries. The future of the Balkans is within
the European Union. The ongoing enlargement and the signing of the Treaty
of Athens in April 2003 inspire and encourage the countries of the Western
Balkans to follow the same successful path. Preparation for integration
into European structures and ultimate membership into the European Union,
through adoption of European standards, is now the big challenge ahead.
The Croatian application for EU membership is currently under examination
by the Commission. The speed of movement ahead lies in the hands of
the countries of the region.
The countries of the region fully share the objectives of economic and
political union and look forward to joining a EU that is stronger in
the pursuit of its essential objectives and more present in the world.
The endorsement yesterday by the European Council of The Thessaloniki
agenda for the Western Balkans: Moving towards European Integration
represents a new important step in the privileged relationship between
the EU and the Western Balkans. Its content shall be considered as our
shared agenda, and we all commit to its implementation. The countries
of the region will focus their efforts on meeting the recommendations
this agenda refers to.
We acknowledge that the Stabilisation and Association process (SAP)
will remain the framework for the European course of the Western Balkan
countries, all the way to their future accession. The process and the
prospects it offers serve as the anchor for reform in the Western Balkans,
in the same way the accession process has done in Central and Eastern
Europe. Progress of each country towards the EU will depend on its own
merits in meeting the Copenhagen criteria and the conditions set for
the SAP and confirmed in the final declaration of the November 2000
Zagreb summit. The Western Balkan countries highly value the annual
review mechanism of the SAP, based on the Commission's reports, and
commit themselves to implement its recommendations.
The Western Balkan countries welcome the decisions by the EU to strengthen
its Stabilisation and Association policy towards the region and to enrich
it with elements from the experience of enlargement. They welcome in
particular the launching of the European Partnerships, as well as the
decisions for enhanced co-operation in the areas of political dialogue
and the Common Foreign and Security Policy, parliamentary co-operation,
support for institution building, opening of Community programmes. They
take note of the ongoing discussions for an increase in the budgeted
Community financial support to the region through the CARDS programme.
We support the full implementation of Resolution 1244 of the UN Security
Council on Kosovo and the standards before status policy of UNMIK; we
remain committed to the Dayton/Paris Agreements and we encourage full
implementation of the Ohrid and Belgrade agreements. The EU and the
SAP countries fully support the International Criminal Court, recalling
relevant EU decisions. The Western Balkan countries pledge full and
unequivocal co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for
the former Yugoslavia. Its work, on all open issues, including the transfer
to The Hague of all remaining indictees, should be allowed to progress
without delays. Providing justice for war crimes is a legal, political
and moral imperative to which we are all committed.
return of refugees and internally displaced persons is critical for
ethnic reconciliation and an index of democratic maturity; it remains
high on our priority agenda. We stress the role of education, culture
and youth in promoting tolerance, ensuring ethnic and religious coexistence
and shaping modern democratic societies.
Fragmentation and divisions along ethnic lines are incompatible with
the European perspective, which should act as a catalyst for addressing
problems in the region.
recent launching of the EU police Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina
and of the operation Concordia in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
are tangible proofs of the EUs commitment to the region. While the EU
is strengthening its commitment in Southeast Europe, notably in police
and security operations, continued engagement of other international
actors is necessary. We all highly value the close co-operation between
the EU and the US and NATO in the region, within the framework of UN
Resolutions, as well as the role of other international organisations
and financial institutions operating in the area. We encourage close
co-ordination of their activities.
Organised crime and corruption is a real obstacle to democratic stability,
the rule of law, economic development and development of civil society
in the region and is a source of grave concern to the EU. Combating
it constitutes a major priority. The SAP countries commit themselves
to define and implement the measures foreseen in the follow up process
to the London conference of November 2002 and described in the Thessaloniki
Agenda. Particular attention will be given in combating trafficking
in human beings. The countries of the region also commit to concrete
measures, in accordance with the Thessaloniki Agenda and the documents
of the Ohrid May 2003 conference, respectively, in order to cope effectively
with illegal immigration and improving border security and management,
aiming at achieving European standards.
We acknowledge the importance the peoples of the Western Balkans attach
to the perspective of liberalisation of the EU's visa regime towards
them. We recognise that progress is dependent on implementing major
reforms in areas such as the strengthening of the rule of law, combating
organised crime, corruption and illegal migration, and strengthening
administrative capacity in border control and security of documents.
The Western Balkan countries welcome the intention of the Commission
to hold discussions, within the framework of the Stabilisation and Association
Process, with each of them, regarding the requirements for how to take
these issues forward in concrete terms.
Economic prosperity is essential to long term stability and democracy
in the region. Persistent efforts and structural reforms are required
to establish functioning market economies and to achieve sustainable
development and to ensure employment.
recognise the importance of developing modern networks and infrastructures
in energy,transport and telecommunications in the region, consistent
with the Trans-European Networks. We encourage further mobilisation
of international support in these areas, notably through the European
Investment Bank and other International Financial Institutions, and
SAP countries welcome the decisions by the EU to consider further measures
for enhancing its trade with them, to extend the Internal Energy Market
to the region as a whole and to establish a regular economic dialogue
with each country of the region.
Considering that small and medium-sized enterprises are a key source
of jobs, innovation and wealth and are essential for the functioning
of competitive market economies, the SAP countries hereby commit to
the policy principles enshrined in the European Charter for Small Enterprises,
as well as to participate in its implementation.
We reiterate that rapprochement with the EU will go hand in hand with
the development of regional co-operation. The countries of the Western
Balkans and, where applicable, other regional participant countries,
commit to promote concrete objectives and initiatives, along the lines
prescribed by the Thessaloniki Agenda, in the areas of regional free
trade, visa-free movement within the region, collection of small arms,
creation of regional markets for electricity and gas, development of
transport, energy and telecommunication infrastructures, environment
and water management, research technology and development, cross-border
co-operation and parliamentary co-operation.
We reconfirm our support to the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe
in its complementary role to the Stabilisation and Association Process
and in implementing its agreed core objectives. We invite it to focus
in particular on the tasks suggested in the Thessaloniki Agenda. We
support regional co-operation initiatives such as the South-East European
Co-operation Process (SEECP), the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative, and the
Central European Initiative. We encourage further co-operation between
the European Commission, the Stability Pact and the SEECP, which is
gradually becoming the voice of the region.
10. Since our Zagreb meeting in November 2000, considerable progress
was made towards stability, democracy and economic recovery in all countries
of the Western Balkans, as well as in regional co-operation and good
neighbourly relations between them, to the benefit of their peoples
and of Europe as a whole. All the countries of the region have also
made good progress in advancing towards the EU. A comparison with three
years ago reveals the road that has been covered. At the same time,
the Western Balkan countries, aware that there is much and hard work
ahead, commit themselves to intensify the pace of reforms. The European
Union pledges full support to their endeavours.
We have agreed to meet periodically at our level, within the framework
of a EU-Western Balkan forum, in order to discuss issues of common concern,
to review progress of the countries of the region in their road to Europe,
and to exchange views on major developments in the EU. Annual meetings
of foreign ministers and ministers responsible for Justice and Home
Affairs will be held as appropriate. Acceding and candidate countries
will be fully involved. We welcome the intention of the incoming EU
Italian Presidency to organise the first meetings of this kind, by the
end of the year. Other ministers can also meet when appropriate.