Sunday, May 4, 2008


OHRID, Macedonia (May 4,2008) - Officials from 19 central and southeastern European countries wrapped up their two-day summit at Ohrid, a lakeside resort in southern Macedonia, yesterday.

Leaders from central and southeastern European countries said at the conclusion of their two-day summit yesterday that the EU enlargement process can't be completed without the full inclusion of the western Balkan countries.

The Bosnian President Haris Silajdzic, in a speech, criticized the European Union for postponing a pre-membership trade-and-aid agreement for Bosnia while signing one with the genocidal Serbia.

"We were told the deal would be signed first in April, then in May, and now June is mentioned as a possible date. Our people are hurt and a bitter feeling lingers. Bosnia has fulfilled all the conditions. Serbia got the deal. The countries who have committed genocide got it, but not Bosnia, who was the victim," President Silajdzic said.

The presidents of Albania, Austria, Bosnia, Germany, Hungary, Macedonia, Poland, Serbia, Slovenia and Ukraine also took part in the meeting, while leaders of Italy and Romania sent representatives.

Leaders from Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Moldova, Montenegro and Slovakia attended the summit which has been held annually for the last 15 years.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul was invited to join as a guest.

"The region has no alternative but the integration into the European Union," said the document adopted at the closing of the meeting.

The Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski called on the EU to continue its support of the aspiring countries' efforts in this respect.

Participants in the meeting also concluded that economic development remains one of the highest priorities.

"A precondition for larger economic growth is stable energy supply and high-quality transport and telecommunication infrastructure at a local and regional level," the document said.

Kosovo was on the agenda of the meeting, but its representatives were not invited to the summit.

Crvenkovski explained that it was due to the fact that there is no consensus among the participants in the meeting on the recognition of Kosovo's independence.

The Central European Initiative was formed in 1989 to strengthen ties between the region and the EU. Its 18 members are Albania, Austria, Belarus, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine.

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