Statement by the RCC Secretary General on the occasion of Europe Day Let’s commit to building a future where the Western Balkans isn't just a guest at the party, but part of the EU family

09 May 2024

RCC Secretary General Majlinda Bregu

RCC Secretary General Majlinda Bregu

Sarajevo – Statement by the Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council Majlinda Bregu on the occasion of the Europe Day:

“In early twentieth century France, the Nobel laureate Romain Rolland declared ‘Ode to Joy’ symphony as the great humanist ode to the brotherhood of all people, and it came to be called  the anthem of humanity. As I was preparing this morning for this Talking Point, the yet unpublished data of the new edition of the Balkan Barometer took a bit of that joy today. Because unfortunately the data is showing a further steep decline of the support of Western Balkan citizens to EU membership. With 54% of Western Balkan citizens supporting the EU membership the sentiment still remains largely favourable across the region. But an eight-point drop since 2021 is a stark reminder of the frustrations many feel about the pace of progress, and a call to action. On a good note, the percentage of those thinking that the EU accession will never happen dropped by 5%, from 23 to 18 percent. So, optimism is there, but it comes less easily.

Western Balkans has come a long way over the last two decades. But developing the region’s potential will require new sources of dynamism and transformation to overcome deep-seated social, institutional and environmental challenges. But it’s not just about money and market, it's about values: democracy, rule of law, human rights. 

So, on this Europe Day let’s not just wave flags or watch fireworks. Let’s commit to the hard work of reform, to fighting corruption and building a future where the Western Balkans isn't just a guest at the party, but part of the family. Europe focused on people, one that is adaptable, reformed, revitalised, and inclusive, with the Western Balkans firmly integrated, represents the optimal investment in peace and security for the entire continent. 

As Europe prepares for the upcoming elections, those of us who cannot vote extend our best wishes to the progressive, responsible Europeans who will cast their ballots not only for themselves but also on our behalf. We, who are outside the embrace, watch with hope that the future of Europe unfolds positively despite our inability to directly shape it. So, my fellow Europeans dedicate a positive thought and a vote to all those who as in the ‘Ode to Joy’ lyrics sing: “Drunk with fire we dare to enter, Holy One, inside your shrine”.

Cheers to a stronger, united Europe!”

Watch the full video here.