PES leaders and officials gather in Sofia for the PES Western Balkan Conference



Today, leaders and officials from Social Democratic parties of the EU and the Western Balkans gathered in Sofia for the PES' annual 'Western Balkan Conference'.

Given the current events, participants discussed at length the situation in FYR Macedonia. Radmila Sekerinska, Vice-President of the SDSM, provided background information on the protests and the killings in Kumanova. The PES also issued a statement on the situation, which you can find here. They also talked about the economic and social consequences of enlargement, and the decline of fundamental values in the region.

One of the most important takeaways of the conference is that we need to keep the prospect of EU membership alive. "Enlargement is one of the most important foreign policy instruments the EU has", says PES leader Sergei Stanishev, "We cannot let the momentum slip away. We, as social democrats, have always been the most vocal supporters of further EU integration as it enhances stability and prosperty for both old and new member states. The ongoing conflicts in the East and South of Europe, combined with a rise in authoritarianism and the continuing economic crisis provide for a dangerous mix. We have to encourage aspiring member countries in the Western Balkans to keep up the reforms and continue on the path to EU accession."

The parties also agreed on a joint declaration, which you can find here.