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Western Balkan countries finally seem to reflect a new attitude to national issues and neighbouring relationships. This is mainly seen as a product of the new mentality that their leaders are spreading.
Serbian President Vucic, Albanian Prime Minister Rama, and Macedonian Prime Minister Zaev, all belong to a young generation, different from their rigid and more nationalistic predecessors, inspiring their people to look ahead towards EU accession, leaving behind the problematic past.
Albanian PM Rama was the first to start such attempts a couple of years ago, to establish friendly relationships with all his counterparts, calling on them to get rid of the past mentality. He was regarded by the West as a leader in the process of establishing a good neighborhood, to unite WB states towards their common aim, joining the EU. This maybe was due to his extroverted and audacious character; someone would break the ice, of course.
The others followed in short time, and despite the fact that not always their people agreed with or supported them, they showed they were smart enough to try to go along with the European stream.
In a recent interview to the Brussels portal “politico.eu”, Serbian President Vucic stated the fact that Western Balkan leaders are changing their history, banning life-long clashes among countries. He expressed his own viewpoint in regard to the region’s common issues, stressing that he was also sharing the opinions of Rama and Zaev, that WB countries were tired of wars and nationalist clashes, which brought about thousands of victims, emigration and economic destruction to their countries. The time when Balkan politicians were rivals, did not trust each other and had no clear vision for the future now is gone.
According to Vucic, obstacles could be overcome with common will and perseverance. He surprised everyone by stating for the first time that separately the West Balkan countries are small, but together they become 20 million, providing a good possibility for foreign investment.
It is a fact that during the last decade the relationships among Western Balkan countries have been dramatically transformed. Finally they have understood that joining EU cannot be a purpose in itself, but a common issue. It is the duty of their leaders to establish the right conditions to bring progress and prosperity to their countries, by keeping their promises. Each of the countries, more or less, have the same tasks to accomplish to be accessed into the EU: fight against corruption, crime and fraud, establish a trustworthy judicial system, economic growth, etc. One or two are doing better than the others, according to Brussels, but every country is determined to deepen the reforms and enter EU as a block.
The Serbian President Vucic showed himself sure that the free movement of people, goods and capital will make the region attractive for investments. The Western Balkans have experienced the destructive effects of nationalism; now it is time to concentrate on what connects and not divides the countries. Greater economic integration will help to build cultural bridges among Balkan states, making the region more stable politically. The economic unity is primary, the same way it started with European countries before their union. The common progress and prosperity is achieved through closer economic cooperation, added Vucic.
Others are following as well. A new era is finally arriving for West Balkans, a wind of change.