Central, south European foreign ministers discuss challenges

AP News
Posted: Nov 29, 2016 10:28 AM
Central, south European foreign ministers discuss challenges

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Nations both inside the European Union and outside the 28-member bloc are facing the same economic and security challenges and should fight them jointly, the EU's top diplomat said Tuesday.

Federica Mogherini attended a meeting in Warsaw of foreign ministers from central and southeastern Europe, who discussed regional issues and the need for close cooperation to counter common threats.

Four EU members — the Visegrad group of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic — have backed aspirations by six Balkan nations to join the bloc but EU leaders have previously indicated there will be no enlargement in the coming five years.

The meeting in Warsaw was called by Poland's foreign minister, Witold Waszczykowski, at a time when Poland and other nations in the region are apprehensive of Russia's increased military activity. They also oppose a 2016 decision by EU leaders obliging member states to accept a set quota of migrants within a relocation program.

Poland's conservative government has refused to take in any refugees, insisting instead on assistance being offered to them in refugee camps close to their home countries.

Mogherini identified the joint challenges as Europe's economic development, the creation of new jobs, countering the radicalization of young people, and managing the inflow of migrants. She said these issues know no borders.

The meeting began with a debate on regional security among ministers of the Visegrad group, who urged a quick admission to the EU of six southern European nations, arguing it would serve the continent's security and economic development.

"The EU's enlargement is a priceless tool for building security, stability and the welfare of the Western Balkans," the statement said, urging the aspiring nations to build good neighborly relations.

The EU group was later joined for talks by ministers from the aspiring nations: Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. Also at the meeting were ministers from EU nations Greece, Italy, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Slovenia.

They also discussed organized crime, terrorism and hybrid threats, as well as regional cooperation.