Thursday, 26 December 2013 13:55

16-th International Conference of ACA
“For a greater Role of the Balkan Countries in the International Security”
20 December 2013, Tirana-Albania

Ismet RAMADANI, Vice President of the Euro-Atlantic Council of Macedonia

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Dear Mr. Starova,

Dear organizers and participants,

It is logical to say that the determination for creating Euro-Atlantic values in our countries and in the region should follow the dynamics and the developments within the Northern-Atlantic Alliance. It is our obligation as Atlanticists to propose ideas and initiatives with deepen the cooperation between our nations and states in the Western Balkans and further more.

Therefore, in the development of the Northern-Atlantic Alliance throughout its history we have witnessed so many initiatives, reforms, transformations which have led the processes in time and space in order to ensure peace and welfare for our citizens all over the world.

When referring to successful initiatives, before referring to the Adriatic Charter, without any doubt, the models of “Visegrad Group” (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary), “Vilnius Group” (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, etc.) have served as incentives for cooperation and in the integration process of the countries from the Western Balkans.

In May 2003 in Tirana, Albania, Macedonia and Croatia as members of the Partnership for Peace platform, aiming to coordinate their activities in the process of integration into NATO, signed the Adriatic Charter (so called A3) for regional cooperation, under the sponsorship of the United States, whereas Italy, Greece and Turkey served as mentors and lobbyists of our countries.

The A3 Charter lied upon the principles of partnership and its goals were Euro-Atlantic integration of the signing states, implementation of reforms in terms of democracy and rule of law, respect towards human rights and freedoms, economic reforms, all these representing a profound basis for peace and stability in the region. This Charter was significant also in terms of a broader cooperation of its members in challenging the regional problems of security, fight against organized crime and corruption, as well as the security of their borders.

The Republic of Macedonia, as a signing member of the Adriatic Charter took its part of the responsibility in acting as contributor to the common values that NATO member-countries share, by actively participating in peacemaking and peacekeeping operations of the Alliance in various corners of the world.

Let us remember that the Adriatic Charter did motivate its member countries to that extent in reaching the standards and criteria required for membership in the Alliance so that receiving the invitation for membership in the upcoming summit was not subject to question at all. And this happened in the Bucharest Summit in April 2008 – Albania and Croatia received the invitation for membership in NATO and became part of this prominent and powerful organization. Very unfortunately, Macedonia left in front of the doors of NATO and did not receive the invitation due to the name dispute with Greece.

What happened in Bucharest was a success of an initiative for cooperation in the Western Balkans, even though not fully accomplished because of the lack of invitation for membership to Macedonia, besides its strong commitment and restless efforts to become a NATO member. At that time and today, I reaffirm my opinion that the leadership of the countries in contest, Macedonia and Greece, did not show satisfactory political affinities and courage to reach a compromise solution to the name dispute in order to overcome the last obstacle for Macedonia to become a member of NATO.

Nevertheless, besides the sincere regret that we share on this issue, Macedonia’s case did not discourage the rest of the countries in the Western Balkans to stop implementing reforms that would lead them to NATO. To the contrary, the regional cooperation was further developed and nowadays we have the Adriatic Charter A5 as Montenegro and Bosnia Herzegovina joined the club.

The extended Adriatic Charter A5, with continuous support from the United States, adds a lot more to the concept of regional cooperation in the Western Balkans. With numerous joint projects, activities and capacities, having two member-countries in the group (Albania and Croatia), the A5 Charter day by day increases its integration in the Alliance. In this regard, we must recognize the contribution of Albania and Croatia who did not leave the group now as members of the Alliance, but on the opposite, continue to serve exemplary in the regional cooperation and the acceptance of the Euro-Atlantic values and principles by other countries in the Western Balkans.

The practice has proven that countries of the Western Balkans in their path towards Euro-Atlantic integration set their preference in initially joining NATO and then EU (Serbia is an exception). This determination derives from the fact that this region needs security and stability before everything else, and these values are more easily met with integration in NATO. It is true to say that this aspect positively influences in speeding-up the process of integration in EU, having in mind that criteria for membership in NATO and EU are to a high extent complementary to each-other.

The Agreement for Understanding and Cooperation reached between the two Prime Ministers of Kosovo and Serbia, Mr. Thaci and Mr. Dacic, under the auspices of the Baroness Ashton is the glad event of the year that we are leaving behind. This brave and significant dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia is showing a green light to the work that we as NGOs do in promoting and affirming the Euro-Atlantic values. Therefore, it is up to us to work further and harder in order to get the Atlantic Council of Kosovo inside the ATA as its member.

The Euro-Atlantic Council of Macedonia shall never hesitate to give its positive contribution in all kind of initiatives which lead to a broader and better cooperation in the region. The more we meet and talk, the more we release ourselves from the prejudices toward each-other.  Therefore, led by the fruitful experiences with A3 and A5, on behalf of the EACM, I would like to reaffirm our strong determination to support and contribute to the initiative of the President of the Atlantic Council of Albania, Mr. Arian Starova for a more pragmatic and coordinated cooperation of the 7 organizations from the Western Balkans countries.  It is time for our organizations to serve as a model of successful cooperation in the eyes of those who support and watch our back – NATO and EU.



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