EU-Western Balkans Summit was held in Slovenia on 06 October 2021 that hosted leaders of EU member states and the six Western Balkans partners: Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, the Republic of North Macedonia and Kosovo.
The European Union is the Western Balkans’ main political, economic, and trade partner and is providing financial support of over €30 billion for the region in phases.
I keenly followed this Summit to understand the dynamics of EU’s social, cultural, political, and economic fabrics.
Another reason for following such summits is a comparative study with international and South Asian economic groups in which Pakistan is a member-state.
Pakistan is an active member of over 60 international and South Asian groups but the D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Shanghai Cooperation Organization and OIC are groups that were established for economic uplift and integration among member States.
Alas, we see nothing has been done so far tangible by these groups for the economic boost of member-states and the majority of populations of member-states are living below the poverty line.
On the other hand, the EU even after Brexit is actively involved in uplifting the living standards of weak and poor member-states.
We have not seen any financial support to member States from groups Pakistan is a member to mitigate COVID-19 impact on socio-economic conditions of member states while the “Team Europe” has disbursed €34 billion so far to tackle COVID-19 in partner countries (European Commission).
Through the “Declaration of Summit”, I got to know that EU announced concrete deliverable benefits to Western Balkan States including the €30 billion Economic and Investment Plan (EIP), telecommunication initiatives ensuring lower roaming costs, Green Lanes and Transport Community Action Plan, health and socio-economic support totalling an amount of €3.3 billion and an amount of €30 billion for Economic and Investment Plan (EIP). Moreover, the EU will provide €9 billion worth of grant funding through 10 investment flagships.
The EIP will help attract public and private investment, backed by the Western Balkan Guarantee Facility, which has the potential to mobilize €20 billion.
While travelling this summer from Budapest to Oslo, this scribe experienced that the EU is a fruitful tree for all its member-states and also for those that are inclined to join this family sooner or later.
Now, the EU is working for strengthening its support for Western Balkans partners in addressing migratory challenges with a focus on the improvement of asylum system, tackling migrant smuggling and illegal migration, border management and information exchange.
Sociologists believe that an individual usually leaves a group where he/she does not find economic, moral, political and social support.
Arizona State University research on Group Formation indicates that “Cooperation” is important to human survival but it needs a regular “Review Process”.
Like individuals, nations and states also do retrospective processes and decide what group is important to stay in and what group is useless to involve with.
I believe that Pakistan should also review what did we get from these groups whenever Pakistan needed political and economic support?
I understand that Foreign Affairs is the name of connectivity but when a country has fewer resources it should review what is useful who supported it when it had need of friends. There is also the saying “A friend in need is a friend indeed”.
Great Philosopher Aristotle was asked by his student Alexander the Great some tips when he was leaving for the journey to conquer the world. Aristotle suggested to him that “Throw away that useless baggage to keep your journey smooth”.
—The writer is an analyst writing for national and international media outlets.
Source: Published in pak obsever