From file: Antonio Tajani | Photo: AFP/Aris Oikonomou
From file: Antonio Tajani | Photo: AFP/Aris Oikonomou

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani has told a hearing of the joint committees of foreign affairs of the Lower House and foreign affairs and defence of the Senate that the Western Balkans are key for the migration.

The issue of migration flows along the Balkan route is "key for Italy", Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani told the hearing of the joint committees on Thursday, January 26. "Many irregular" migrants "enter Europe along that route," he said.

The minister recalled the "crucial" commitment of the military "to stabilize the region".

"We have soldiers at the border between Kosovo and Serbia who are appreciated by both sides and I received praise from (Josep) Borrell," the EU foreign policy chief, as well as Kosovan Premier Albin Kurti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

Their presence "is welcome and favours stabilization", stressed Tajani.

'Balkans represent priority for Italian government'

"The Balkans represent a priority for the Italian government, they are perhaps a reality that is not sufficiently followed" or watched "with due attention and intensity," he continued.

"Last Tuesday (January 24), we organized together with the economy ministry a national conference on the region" in Trieste, where "we discussed what Italy can do to be a protagonist in the area, which is a priority. But Trieste is only the first step in a strategy with a more significant Italian presence in the region," he added.

The Balkans are "strategic to our national interest, and what happens there is reflected in Italy and Europe. War in Ukraine gives centrality to the region where stabilization is crucial," stressed the minister, explaining that the area "is the object of geopolitical competition, with China, Russia as well as Turkey and Saudi Arabia trying to gain relevant space. This must not leave us indifferent, we must not take anything for granted and ensure that the sense of belonging to Europe doesn't waver."

'Binding accord necessary' between Serbia and Kosovo

Tajani then spoke about the situation between Serbia and Kosovo. He said that "we need a comprehensive and binding deal, otherwise we will always find ourselves mediating in tense situations that calm down for a few months and then start again."

"We must not underestimate tensions, as they can escalate", he stated.

The foreign minister added that important issues need to be resolved in the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo and "the EU has the responsibility to help solve open issues. We spoke about it at the EU foreign affairs council. Relations between these two countries represent a fundamental cornerstone because they are the point of greatest friction," stressed the minister.

Both leaders pledged to safeguard security in the region" but "the situation on the ground remains tense," noted Tajani.

He explained that "during all talks I insisted on the need not to take unilateral actions."

"We are on the frontline to favour the normalization of relations between the two countries" and "it is in our interest to encourage Serbia to make a clear choice in favour of Europe. But Europe must also offer Serbia, as well as Kosovo, a perspective of tangible integration. We have no interest in Serbia eyeing the East instead of the West," he concluded.


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