1. We, European Democrats, are convinced that the Balkan region represents a significant challenge for the construction of the European Union and that the ‘Balkan spirit’ can influence Europe and the world in the near future. Today, the Balkans are too often seen as a conquering territory for a few major powers (Russia, China, Turkey) in their strategy of influence, and we deplore this. We, parliamentarians, local leaders, non-governmental organisations, researchers, businesses... strongly affirm that we are, above all, European citizens. Our goal is to project ourselves into the future of the region, for 2030 and 2050.
2. In addition to the usual procedures (applications, formal membership, Schengen, eurozone), which are necessary and useful, we are initiating a process of deepening. Indeed, we believe that political and citizens’ reflection precedes the procedures and supports them. Some of us come from the eleven Balkan countries (and not only from the six so-called ‘Western Balkans’) and have a specific history and geography, which is useful for the entire Union; others come from EU member states (French, German, Polish, Italian). As each European feels ‘at home’ in the European Union, we want the Balkans to be a ‘home’ for which we must feel responsible in the future.
Since its birth, the European Union has been a unique political model in the world, different from the American, Chinese, Russian or Indian model. In this model, we strive to be united ‘in diversity’. For us, European Democrats, democracy is above all a way of organising compromises, not the tyranny of the majority over the minority; it allows shared access to wealth and common goods, not each for themselves; and it is embodied, finally, in the separation of powers and the strength of our institutions.
We, European Democrats, support the reconciliation of the so-called ‘hereditary’ enemies.
For us, the border does not only define a territory in terms of ‘rights’ (to protection, security, culture…), but also a place of encounter, cooperation and responsibility.
We, European Democrats, affirm that there are no ‘older brothers’ or ‘younger brothers’ in the EU area. In the Balkans we do not see ourselves as ‘small countries’, but as essential players in European diversity.
Today, the architecture of the European Union seems to be incom- prehensible to the majority of European citizens. In the Balkan region, this situation is even more critical (EU, Eurozone, Schengen area, EPC, EC, OSCE, etc.). We, European Democrats, believe that a stronger Union, with all Balkan countries as full members of the EU, will be the crucial actor in building the broader continental political community for security, stability, prosperity and youth that we need to achieve.
The EU is too slow and invisible in the Balkans, a region bubbling with contradictory influences. This applies, for example, for investments in infrastructure and the economy. The Balkans today need a huge in- vestment plan. We, European Democrats, declare that we must stop procrastinating on the European agenda and values and start acting to change the situation in this region once and for all, because we cannot wait any longer.
Building the European citizenship in the 21st century is a challenge that the European Union needs to face. How can we be united in this famous ‘diversity’ that in the Balkans is so rich and intense as to become explosive? How can we organise the diversity of nations, languages, cultures and ‘ethnicities’? We, European Democrats, commit ourselves to work on this with determination and conviction.