Additionally, the European Union representatives expressed only verbal support for the Kosovo visa liberalization process. Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani said that she had received the most substantial support so far from the EU representatives, and she hopes for visa liberalization to be granted soon. On the other hand, President Osmani stated that it is time for Kosovo to move on in the process, as supportive words are not enough anymore.
Also, Bosnia and Herzegovina left the summer disappointed. The country remains hopeful of getting candidate status, but no progress has been made during the summit. The European Union officials state that Bosnia and Herzegovina must fulfill crucial reforms before the receiving candidate’s status.
Like most participating countries, Serbia left the Western Balkans summit disappointed. Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić claimed that nothing significant happened at the meeting. Vučić added that Serbia supports North Macedonia’s and Albania’s ambitions to become EU members but criticized the EU for the stagnation of the process.
Even though the summit disappointed many, the outcome is not surprising. Considering the unstable political situation in Bulgaria, it was not expected that the summit would change the Bulgarian position regarding the blockade of North Macedonia (and Albania). Therefore, despite some clues and signs that the veto could be lifted soon, the summit was not a place where a crucial decision was expected to be made. However, it does not mean North Macedonia should not be concerned and frustrated. The blocking has been ongoing for too long, and the EU is losing momentum in North Macedonia and Albania. In the current geopolitical situation, the EU cannot afford to lose two crucial countries in Western Balkans.
Regarding Kosovo, the frustration is understandable. Kosovo has fulfilled all the criteria already in 2018, but the ball is now on the EU’s side. Since Kosovo is developing robust cooperation with Western partners, the EU should grant visa liberalization, as all the countries that met the requirements have been given this right before. The European Union must realize that the EU’s reputation is at stake in Kosovo. If the EU continues to reject visa liberalization for Kosovo, it could hurt and decrease the country’s efforts to meet the EU’s standards.
Concerning Bosnia and Herzegovina, the situation is even worse. The disunity of the European Union members concerning granting BiH candidate status creates a severe issue for Bosnia and Herzegovina and the EU’s ambitions. Even though Bosnia and Herzegovina started to seek EU membership sooner than Ukraine and Moldova, the latter-mentioned countries have been granted candidate status already, while BIH has not achieved this status yet. In the current situation, the BIH leadership must admit that EU membership is somewhat unrealistic. Therefore, they must be honest with citizens and try to find other partnership streams, as the EU will not even get closer to BIH in the upcoming years. That fact is frustrating for BIH, but the EU should also be concerned. Losing the faith of BIH citizens could bolster Russian, Chinese and Turkish influence and bring further political and ethnic instability to BIH.