Peace in the Western Balkans was hard earned and won, and it would be a mistake to take it for granted, Defence Minister Ivan Anusic said at the Central European Defence Cooperation (CEDC) meeting in Prague, the Croatian Defence Ministry said Friday.
Anusic participated in the meeting of defence ministers of the Central European Defence Cooperation (CEDC) member states in Prague on Thursday and Friday.
At two working sessions, the ministers exchanged opinions on the results of this year’s Czech chairmanship of the initiative, on the security situation in the Western Balkans, and the implications of the war in Ukraine and the events in the Gaza Strip on the security of the Western Balkans.
Anusic is confident that this cooperation will become even more substantial, especially bearing in mind the necessity of building a more peaceful, stable and prosperous area of the Western Balkans, the Croatian ministry said in a press release states.
Wrong to take peace for granted
“For Croatia, this is extremely important because the preservation of peace, the strengthening of democracy and the progress of the Euro-Atlantic integration process are key to the security and stability of Europe as a whole. Peace in the Western Balkans was hard earned and won, and it would be a mistake to take it for granted.” Anusic said.
He added that the missed opportunities for progress in the process of European integration led to a more active strengthening of Russian influence in the Western Balkans.
In addition to the ministers of the countries of the CEDC initiative – Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, and the observer Poland, the meeting was also attended by the ministers of defence or representatives of the countries of the Western Balkans – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.
In the context of the events in the Gaza Strip, Anusic stressed that Croatia unequivocally condemns the terrorist attack on Israel and resolutely supports Israel’s right to defend itself under international law, the press release said.
Major destruction overnight
“Overnight, we faced the reality of the enormous scale of suffering of innocent civilians in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. Now it is important to take steps that will lead to a sustainable peace and future. At this moment, it is important to stand equally with Israel and Ukraine, two democracies under direct attack,” said the minister.
Bilateral talks on the margins of the meeting
On the sidelines of the CEDC meeting in Prague, the Croatian minister met with colleagues from Slovenia, BiH and Kosovo.
Anusic pointed out that Croatia and Slovenia are “an example of allied solidarity”, which was demonstrated when Slovenia was hit by floods and Croatia by earthquakes.
He added that Croatia will continue to help Bosnia and Herzegovina in the field of defence and security, especially in terms of accession to Euro-Atlantic integration, and will provide support to Kosovo on its way to membership of NATO and the European Union.