Ivanov: Integration of the Balkans is of key importance for EU security
Saturday, 01 July 2017 00:00   

dubrovnik_forum0The European Union should accelerate the integration process as a vital element and part of its long-term security strategy. The Balkans have always been a crossroads of Europe, and stable countries also mean better protection of its southeastern borders, said the President of the Republic of Macedonia, Dr. Gjorge Ivanov at the "Dubrovnik Forum 2017", which was focused  on the topic of "Adriatic-Mediterranean cooperation and security of the Southeastern Europe".

President Ivanov pointed out that the biggest threat to European security is yet to come, and it is urgent to pay attention to it, pointing to the thousands of foreign fighters from the Balkan countries participating in the fighting in the Middle East.

- The EU and NATO must plan preventive measures against returnees aimed not only at their member states, but also on the unintegrated part of the Balkans, the head of state stressed.

President Ivanov emphasized that the integration of the Balkans as a whole is not only important, but necessary for long-term peace, stability and security in the region.

The integration of the Balkan countries, Ivanov said, is the most important tool in the European Union to prevent religious extremism. - This would guarantee hope and progress in the region, which already shows signs of disappointment and despair. The European dream should become a reality for all and as soon as possible, the President said.

The Balkan countries, Ivanov stated, who are not yet integrated into the European Union, are a potential Trojan horse at the gates of Europe.

- Non-integrated Balkan countries are a security gap in a very fragile part of Europe. The Balkans as a region already has their own challenges that can very easily cause instability even without external influence: ethnic and religious diversity, historical clashes, recent conflicts, unemployment, poverty, corruption and organized crime. All this, combined with the ever-present nationalism, ethnocentrism, xenophobia and, more recently, Islamophobia, shows that the Balkans have all the necessary ingredients that terrorist groups can potentially exploit to boost Europe directly and indirectly, President Ivanov said in his address at the "Dubrovnik Forum".

The region, Ivanov added, faces challenges that can lead to instability and dysfunctional states can very easily become a refuge for terrorists, a base for further operations, transit training camps, recruiting, indoctrination and infiltration on European soil.

Hence, the President appealed for the need for long-term regional security policies as a first step towards creating a stable and secure environment.

President Ivanov participated yesterday at the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the participating countries in the South-East European Cooperation Process and held a bilateral meeting with the President of Croatia, Ms. Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic.