Central, south European foreign ministers discuss challenges

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The European Union’s top diplomat said Tuesday that EU members and non-member states are facing the same challenges in the economy and security and should fight them jointly.

Federica Mogherini attended a meeting Tuesday in Warsaw of foreign ministers from central and southeastern Europe that discussed regional issues and the need for close cooperation with and within the European Union to counter various threats.

Four EU member nations of the so-called Visegrad group have backed aspirations by six Balkan nations to join the bloc. EU leaders have indicated there will be no enlargement in the coming five years.

The meeting in Warsaw was called by Poland’s foreign minister, Witold Waszczykowski, at a time when Poland and other nations in the region are apprehensive of Russia’s military activity. They also oppose a 2016 decision by EU leaders obliging member states to accept a set quota of migrants within a relocation program. Nations in the region are anxious about the massive inflow of migrants.

Mogherini identified the joint challenges as pertaining to Europe’s economic development, creation of new jobs, radicalization of young people, security and management of the inflow of migrants. She said these issues know no borders and concern EU members and those non-aligned.

The meeting began with a debate on regional security among ministers of the Visegrad group of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.

They issued a statement urging a quick admission to the EU of six south European nations, arguing it would serve the continent’s security and economic development.

They were later joined for talks by ministers from the aspiring nations: Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo. Participating also are ministers from EU nations in the region: Greece, Italy, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Slovenia.

They also discussed organized crime, terrorism and hybrid threats, as well as regional cooperation and good-neighborly relations.

The meeting continued as planned at Warsaw’s Legia soccer stadium despite a brief security breach alarm that was apparently set off accidentally and did not lead to any evacuation.