Focus on Closer Cooperation and EU Enlargement: C5 Foreign Ministers Meet in Ljubljana

PeopleDiplomats ♦ Published: March 26, 2024; 23:10 ♦ (Vindobona)

The foreign ministers of the so-called Central 5 Group (C5) - consisting of Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Hungary, and Slovakia - met in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, for a landmark meeting. This meeting marks another significant step in Central European diplomatic cooperation, which goes beyond mere neighborly assistance and focuses on the region's key challenges and opportunities.

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg attended the Central-5 (C5) meeting in Ljubljana. / Picture: © BMEIA Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äußeres / Michael Gruber / Flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

The host of the meeting, Slovenian Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon, emphasized the importance of the C5 format as a platform for the exchange of common interests and challenges. The discussions covered a wide range of topics, with a particular focus on EU enlargement, especially concerning the Western Balkans.

Austria's Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg emphasized the strategic importance of the integration of the Western Balkan countries into the EU, a topic that has gained further importance due to the recent decisions of the European Council to open accession negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina. Schallenberg emphasized that this development was not only an important signal for the countries concerned but also an important step towards strengthening Europe's overall security and stability.

Another prominent guest at the meeting was Montenegrin Foreign Minister Filip Ivanović, who presented his country's progress in the EU rapprochement process and emphasized the importance of support from the C5 countries. The discussions with Ivanović showed the commitment of the C5 countries to the enlargement process and their willingness to support the Western Balkan countries on their path to the EU.

In addition to EU enlargement, regional security issues, in particular the situation in Ukraine and the impact of geopolitical tensions in Europe, were central topics of the meeting. Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský addressed the need to increase support for Ukraine and emphasized the importance of unity within the EU to effectively address the current challenges.

Another critical issue discussed by the ministers was the fight against illegal migration, an area in which Austria in particular plays a leading role due to its geographical location and experience. Schallenberg emphasized the importance of exchange and cooperation with Central European neighbors to strengthen cross-border cooperation and find common solutions to this complex problem.

The meeting in Ljubljana was not only a testimony to the strength and cohesion of the C5 countries, but also a clear commitment to continued support for the European integration efforts of the Western Balkan states. The talks made it clear that the C5 Group plays a central role in shaping the EU's future enlargement policy and in dealing with regional security issues.

Looking ahead, it was announced that the next meeting of the C5 Foreign Ministers will take place in Slovakia, where discussions will continue and further steps to deepen cooperation in Central Europe are planned. These ongoing meetings underline the importance of the C5 format as a key pillar of regional and European diplomacy aimed at addressing common challenges and promoting stability and prosperity in Central Europe.

Austrian MFA

Czech MFA

Slovak MFA

Slovenian MFA