Establishing a permanent peace
Given that it will be funded by the European Commission, could it somehow serve as a doorway for the full integration of the region’s countries in the European Union? The RCC is financed by contributions from the countries of the region, from the European Commission and from the international donor community, that is from the countries that recognize the importance of establishing lasting peace, stability, security and cooperation in our part of Europe for broader European and international relations in general. In this context, the RCC reflects a synergy of interests. And, of course, as all countries of the region share the same strategic goals of becoming members of integrated Euro-Atlantic bodies, the RCC is here to serve this goal. Not as a tool of any one-sided strategy, not as anybody’s instrument. What this part of Europe needs more than anything else is an environment of cooperation rather than confrontation. History has taught us grave lessons whenever the divisions in Europe took their victims in the Balkans. The region is plagued by organized crime and corruption. What are your plans for dealing with that? Yes, corruption and organized crime are a problem for the region. It is partly a legacy of the old system in many countries, and partly a child of transition and wars, but we need to deal with it. Not only because it is a benchmark in the EU negotiations, but because it is a key to the health of our societies. Within the RCC we have the Regional Anti-corruption Initiative as an affiliated body and my plan is to give it a more prominent role and responsibility by linking it more closely to individual government’s activities in this area and to the European Commission.