"Regional cooperation - more talk than work"

BELGRADE -- Former special coordinator of the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe Erhard Busek says cooperation between countries in the region "does not in fact exist."

The New Balkans and the EU 2014 gathering in Belgrade (Tanjug)
The New Balkans and the EU 2014 gathering in Belgrade (Tanjug)

There is "more talk about cooperation than actions and results," the Austrian politician noted.

"There is more talk and participation in conferences and various gatherings, but the results are lacking," Busek told reporters on the sidelines of the international conference entitled "New Balkans and the EU 2014."

He stressed that the region should cooperate through cross-border infrastructure projects and the Danube Initiative, but that is still not the case.

Countries in the region vying for EU membership must have a well developed infrastructure network, Busek pointed out.

He also warned about the alarming state of the media in the region and a constant decline of democracy.

"We are faced with the growing authoritarianism, while democracy is being pushed aside, and that is how it will be as long as only one person, the leader, makes the decisions," said Busek.

Commenting on the state of the media, Busek said that pressure exists and at a very high level, noting that the reports from all countries are not encouraging.

Speaking about Serbia's upcoming OSCE Chairmanship in 2015, Busek said that it will be a great challenge as the mediation in the Ukrainian crisis is expected to continue.

It could create some difficulties for Serbia, perhaps in the relations with the EU and Russia, but the government of Serbia must be able to overcome this and show maturity and ability to secure peace, said Busek.