Press release | Date: 2017-10-12 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
'Strengthening the rule of law and promoting democratic and economic development in the Western Balkans are very important. I am pleased to announce that the Government intends to double Norway's aid to the region from NOK 175 million in 2017 to NOK 350 million in 2018,' said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.
There are differences between the Western Balkan countries, but they are all still facing challenges relating to corruption, the rule of law, and high levels of unemployment, particularly among young people.
The after-effects of the conflicts in the 1990s are still evident in the form of national, ethnic and religious divisions.
As announced in the white paper on the future course of Norwegian foreign and security policy, the Government is increasing funding for areas of Europe that are threatened by instability, with a view to promoting reforms and progress towards EU and Nato membership in the countries concerned.
'It is crucial that the countries in the region are able to implement their reform programmes to ensure continued democratic development. This is also essential for their further integration into the EU. The support from Norway will be important in this context,' said Mr Brende.
The Western Balkan region is currently in a critical phase. Economic and social challenges, combined with underlying tensions, could strengthen anti-democratic forces. Norway's aid to the region supports the countries' own reform plans and is coordinated with aid from the EU, EU member states and other important donors.