The SI Committee for Central and Eastern Europe, SICEE, met in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on 12-13 July, focusing discussions on peace and stability in the Balkans and the enlargement process of the European Union.
The meeting, which included the participation of SI member parties and guests from the region and other delegates, opened with contributions from Luis Ayala, Secretary General of the International; Borut Pahor, President of the host party, the United List of Social Democrats, ZLSD; László Kovács, leader of the Hungarian Socialist Party, MSzP, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Co-Chair of the Committee; and Piero Fassino, leader of the Democrats of the Left, DS, Italy, and Co-Chair of the Committee.
A declaration reflecting the discussions on the main themes was adopted. The Committee welcomed the progress achieved in favour of peace and stability in South-East Europe, and called for further cooperation between the countries in the region, neighbouring candidate countries to the European Union and EU member states. Reviewing the cases of Serbia and Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, SICEE underlined the importance of the economic, political and military commitments of the international community in the region, and called on all SI member parties to support the social democratic political forces and initiatives to strengthen democracy there.
Considering the enlargement of the European Union as "a decisive and strategic choice for the future of the European continent" and "an historic opportunity to achieve a united Europe", the Committee recognised the commitment and determination of the candidate countries and expressed its hope that negotiations will be finalised with applicant countries under the current Danish presidency, so accession of new members can commence as from 2004. It called on all European governments and parliaments to speed up the process of ratification of the signed accords and urged the EU to prepare in advance the necessary financial resources to foster better integration of all candidate countries. (Full text of the declaration)
The Committee also reviewed the political situation in countries in the region and welcomed the successes achieved by socialist and social democratic parties in the most recent elections in Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic.