#WEAREEU – Students at University of Žilina: “We want the EU not only as an economic project but also as a value one”
The position of Slovakia in the EU, opportunities for studying abroad, as well as the development of infrastructure – these were the topics discussed today (8 March) by students of high schools and universities at the University of Žilina with Alexander Micovčin, Director General at the Directorate General for European Affairs of the Slovak Foreign and European Affairs Ministry. “It is important to meet and talk together about what the European Union means for us, how we perceive its added value, as well as what we would like to change about the EU. For this the National Convention on the EU is an ideal platform," stated Micovčin in his opening address.
Korčok in Tirana: "EU Enlargement is not a one-way street; it is in our common interest that we strengthen stability in the Western Balkans”
The European integration process, security issues – including NATO membership and the fight against terrorism and extremism – as well as mutual cooperation between Slovakia and Albania were discussed today (7 March) during the meeting of Ivan Korčok, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, and Gramoz Ruçi, Speaker of Parliament of Albania. As Korčok stated, Albania is now faced with the task of persuading even the biggest sceptics in the European Union that there are good reasons to open accession talks with Tirana. “It is of utmost importance in this phase to mobilize all available resources and to get the largest part of society engaged in this process. We cannot wipe out the history of the region but it is necessary to look forward rather than backward: the better reputation of the region, the better situation for the individual states. It is necessary to change the view and perception of the Western Balkans in the eyes of some members of the international community.
Korčok in Tirana: “EU Strategy for the Western Balkans opens scope for the partners in the region to be ready for the EU at the moment when the EU is ready for them”
A meeting with the President of Albania, Ilir Meta, launched the program of the working visit paid by Ivan Korčok, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, to Tirana on Tuesday (6 March) afternoon. The talks were dominated by current topics related to Albania’s EU integration process and the respective reform processes in the country with the emphasis laid on an extensive reform of justice and the progress in meeting five key priorities that are decisive for opening EU accession talks. During the talks, State Secretary Korčok confirmed the interest of the Slovak Republic in assisting Albania through sharing its own experience and know-how from the EU integration process, also including the CETIR (Centre for Experience Transfer from Integration and Reforms) program. “2018 can become a stepping stone for further progress by Albania on its road towards the EU. I would like to encourage you so that you continue in implementing the key reforms – neither because Brussels wants it nor because this will lead to the opening of the accession talks but because this will first of all help improve living conditions of ordinary people in this country," stated Korčok, who also talked with the President of Albania about bilateral relations and priorities in economic cooperation, as well as some regional issues including the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue.
Korčok: “It is necessary to explain better and more to Serbian citizens about the benefits of EU membership and its concrete tangible results"
The European Union has gone through a range of crises in recent years – from the financial crisis, through the economic one to terrorism as a new phenomenon, as well as coping with Brexit. “Despite this or perhaps exactly because of it, the enlargement agenda is an important instrument of the Union, and nowadays it has been “tabled” again today. The enlarged EU will be better and stronger because stability is in our joint interest. Serbia can really play an important role and Slovakia is lending a helping hand in Serbia’s European integration efforts. This was the message today (6 March) by Ivan Korčok, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, in a discussion with students of the Faculty of Political Sciences of the University of Belgrade. “It is your choice whether Serbia becomes an EU member or not. For Slovakia, it was a success story. The EU is not perfect – there are discussions and conflicts going on inside as well. However, for small states it is better to exist in an environment respecting established principles, in an environment in which these states can protect their interests. Do have a critical point of view but bear this in mind,” stated Korčok in the discussion directly following up on the State Secretary´s talks with Jadranka Joksimović, Minister of European Integration of the Republic of Serbia. The Serbian counterpart told him that the support for the country´s membership in the EU is rising among the citizens, overreaching 50 percent; however, there is also a certain factor of "patience fatigue" among candidate countries.
Korčok in Belgrade: ”It is not all only about chapters: there must be a clear political will to do something.”
The Slovak Republic is convinced that a concrete perspective for candidate countries to enter the EU pursuant to the recently published EU Enlargement Strategy represents a strong signal for the Western Balkans countries, as well as a clear message that the integration process is alive. However, it also clearly sets the expectations the EU has from these countries, including Serbia. This was said today (5 March) in Belgrade by Ivan Korčok, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, when speaking with Ivica Dačić, First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister of the Republic of Serbia. “Slovakia is convinced that the EU enlargement process contributes to democratization of the EU neighborhood and to increasing the stability on the European continent. In light of this we also promote continuation of Serbia’s European integration process. It is in our interest to help those countries that can see their future in the EU.