Truss hosts Western Balkans Foreign Ministers in London

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss meets Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs for Albania Olta Xhacka for a bilateral meeting during the Western Balkan Summit at Lancaster House. Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has hosted the Foreign Ministers of the Western Balkans in London for talks.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has this week hosted the Foreign Ministers of the six Western Balkans countries, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.

The UK previously hosted the Western Balkans Summit in 2018 where leaders of the six countries made commitments in a series of Joint Declarations on Regional Cooperation and Good Neighbourly Relations, War Crimes, and Missing Persons in the territory of the former Yugoslavia and Anti-Corruption.

The talks come as tensions in the region have reached a peak. The international High Representative has warned that Bosnia and Herzegovina is currently facing the greatest existential threat in its post-war period, and that there is a real prospect of further division and conflict. Along with international partners, the UK is working to tackle any threats to stability after 26 years of hard-won progress in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The current situation in the Western Balkans was also discussed at the G7 Foreign Ministers’ meeting which took place over the weekend in Liverpool.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said:

The UK is committed to the Western Balkans and to the defence and promotion of freedom and democracy in the region.

As I bring together the Foreign Ministers of the six countries in the region to London, as well as representatives from the European Union and the United States, tensions are high and the international community must act to protect hard-won peace.

Boosting economic ties with the region is a vital way to create jobs and wealth, ensure stability and support freedom.

The Foreign Secretary met each of the six Foreign Ministers. Representatives from the US and the EU were also in attendance.

The UK has maintained a long-standing focus on reconciliation work and transitional justice in the Western Balkans, including:

  • being one of the key donors to the construction and setting up of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • providing political, financial and logistical support to the UN International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, and
  • funding the work of the International Commission for Missing Persons

The UK supports the Western Balkans’ aspirations for Euro-Atlantic integration. Reconciliation and good neighbourly relations remain central to achieving this aim and to maintaining stability in the region.

Truss has said she also wants to reaffirm the UK’s commitment to the Berlin Process and encourage the role of civil society to foster peace and stability in the region.

The UK has urged political leaders in the region to reject hate speech, to condemn any glorification of the perpetrators of genocide and war crimes, and to respect the verdicts of international and domestic courts.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss added:

The UK is stepping up its efforts to promote peace, stability and prosperity in the region. This is a critical moment for the Western Balkans and it is important that the peace, freedom and democracy that was hard won over 20 years ago is maintained.

I recently hosted the G7 Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Liverpool where a discussion was held on the Western Balkans and Ministers welcomed the stepping up of the UK presence. I want the UK and our allies to build closer economic and security ties with the region, which will boost jobs and growth and help support a freer, wealthier, more secure Western Balkans.

I also welcomed representatives from the EU and the US to these discussions and emphasised the need to work together on stepping up our efforts to find lasting solutions to reduce tensions in the region.

As part of this effort, the UK has appointed Sir Stuart Peach as Special Envoy to the Western Balkans. He has long experience in the region, as former UK Chief of the Defence Staff and Chair of NATO’s military committee, and will visit the region tomorrow to take forward our engagement.

This is part of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s mission create a global network of liberty based around deeper economic, tech, security and development ties. As freedom-loving democracies, the UK will help the Western Balkans defend and advance the cause of liberty. They have our full support to not only survive, but thrive.

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