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The BBC's Jacky Rowland
"Aid must go hand in hand with regional co-operation"
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The BBC's James Robbins
"The EU pledged huge support to the region"
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The BBC's Angus Roxburgh in Zagreb
"A moment that had to be seized"
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Friday, 24 November, 2000, 16:17 GMT
EU hails triumph of Balkan democracy
Croatian protesters burn pictures of Kostunica
Croatian demonstrators protested against Mr Kostunica
Leaders of the European Union and six Balkan countries have ended an unprecedented meeting in the Croatian capital, Zagreb, with an agreement to promote reforms and reconcilation.


Democracy and regional reconciliation and co-operation...and rapprochement with the European Union form a whole

Summit declaration
The concluding statement declared that democracy and reconciliation in the Balkans were an essential part of closer links with the rest of Europe.

It welcomed democratic change in Croatia and Yugoslavia, but called for respect for international obligations - including co-operation with the international war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

The declaration also noted that the EU had promised about $4bn in aid over the next six years to support reforms in the Balkans.

Macedonia leads

"Democracy and regional reconciliation and co-operation on the one hand, and the rapprochement of each of these countries with the European Union on the other, form a whole," it said.

Yugoslav President, Vojislav Kostunica
Mr Kostunica is the centre of attention
The declaration said the summit had taken place "at a time when democracy is about to carry the day throughout this region".

"This movement is developing in the interests of all the countries in the region and offers them new prospects," the declaration continued.

The declaration was signed by the leaders of Albania, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croatia, the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, and Yugoslavia.


Democracy is about to carry the day throughout this region

Summit declaration
On the margins of the summit, Macedonia formally signed an association agreement with the European Union, making it the first Balkan country to become a potential candidate for EU membership.

The accord recognised the progress made by Macedonia in achieving political and economic reform.

The EU is due to begin talks with Croatia too on an association agreement.

War crimes tribunal

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair warned that Europe faced a continuing threat from narrow-minded nationalism.

Speaking at the summit, he said nationalism, in the name of misguided patriotism, would take countries backwards.

Mr Blair's spokesman added that the focus should be on the fact that countries like Britain, France and Germany were able to "sit down together and offer the hand of friendship to people in the Balkans".

Earlier, the current EU chairman, President Chirac of France, told the Balkan leaders that their future lay in the family of Europe.

Riot police outside the INtercontinental hotel
Riot police guard the summit venue
But he said it was in everyone's interest that those who had committed crimes were judged and punished.

The Croatian President, Stipe Mesic, said it would be impossible to discuss normalisation of relations with Serbia unless Belgrade co-operated fully with the tribunal.

In evidence of the continuing tensions among Balkan states, about 300 right-wing Croatian demonstrators protested outside the conference at the participation of the new Yugoslav President, Vojislav Kostunica.

The BBC Diplomatic Correspondent Barnaby Mason says the summit was originally intended to highlight the new Western-oriented government of Croatia as a beacon for the region, and at the same time to put pressure on Belgrade to mend its ways.

Upstaged

But the fall of President Slobodan Milosevic in September changed all that.

Zagreb summit logo
The summit signals an era of reconciliation
Now it is Mr Kostunica who is the centre of attention.

So the Croatians were pointedly drawing attention to their co-operation with the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague, and asking when the Serbs are going to match it.

Our correspondent says the European powers do not want to give the impression that Mr Kostunica is getting an easy ride, but they think the priority is to help him consolidate his power in Belgrade.

That means not pushing too hard for the handing over of Mr Milosevic until after the Serbian elections next month.

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See also:

15 Feb 00 | Europe
EU considers future expansion
16 Nov 00 | Europe
Belgrade restores ties with West
15 Feb 00 | Europe
EU enlargement: Second wave
11 Nov 00 | Europe
Serbia gets first EU aid
10 Nov 00 | UK
UK donates 10m to Serbia
08 Oct 00 | Europe
Yugoslavia looks to the future
24 Nov 00 | Europe
Bosnian Serbs elect hardliner
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