EU supports historic step in regional cooperation between Western Balkan countries on refugees and displaced persons
Brussels, 24 April 2012 –Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia have renewed their commitment, in Sarajevo today, to finding durable solutions for refugees and displaced persons of the 1991-1995 conflict in the region. On this occasion, the international donor community has pledged 261 million in support of the Regional Housing Programme at the International Donors Conference on Durable Solutions for Refugees and Displaced Persons.
The joint Regional Housing Programme aims at ensuring voluntary return and reintegration, or local integration of refugees and displaced persons. It will provide durable and sustainable housing solutions to some 74,000 individuals. The programme demonstrates the countries' renewed commitment to regional cooperation, which yields concrete and positive results for the people in the region. Regional cooperation is a key element of EU's stabilisation and association process for the Western Balkans, and refugee return is one of the pillars in this cooperation. The new impetus for regional cooperation is a clear step forward in the EU integration process of the four countries.
"I very much welcome the renewed commitment to the Sarajevo Process by all participating states. It is a clear sign that the region wishes to leave the past behind, without forgetting it, and move on towards the future as good neighbours. I call upon the international donors to support the region in this important endeavour", said European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle.
The overall EU pledge, about EUR 230 million will reach about half of the necessary amount EUR 501 million for the entire duration of the programme; which is expected to last for five years. This pledge remains subject to the pending decision on the overall EU budget for the period 2014-2020. The international donors have pledged an amount of EUR 31 million.