Tusk: the Western Balkans should be EU

18 May, 2018, 03:32 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Theresa May takes her seat at dinner with EU leader where the Iran nuclear deal will be discussed

The EU-Western Balkans summit in Sofia on Thursday wasn't supposed to talk about the enlargement but should have given a clear stance for the countries of the Western Balkans that the European Union counts on them and that it sees their future in EU membership, Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini (Smer-SD) said after the end of the informal summit in Bulgaria, in the country now chairing the EU Council.

The EU is also wary of admitting new members before they settle their differences, particularly in a region still bedevilled by the aftermath of the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

According to Mr. Prodromou, President Anastasiades also underlined the strategic importance to Europe and the security of this region, since five EU Member States are bordering with the Western Balkans and of course the EU, apposition shared by other country leaders as well.

Mrs May is due to meet the Macedonian prime minister, Zoran Zaev, in the capital Skopje.

"I believe that it took us too long since our last meeting in Thessaloniki 15 years ago, and this is why we made a decision to meet again in two years in Croatia".

During the "family photoshoot", Kosovo's Hashim Taci and Serbia's Alexander Vucic were seen close to each other, while they later shook hands when they signed a memorandum of understanding with the European Union under the approving gaze of Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.

French President Emmanuel Macron center speaks with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades left and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni
French President Emmanuel Macron center speaks with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades left and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni

"This is not a subject for Sofia", a senior European Union official insisted, adding that membership issues would be discussed in June when leaders decide whether to approve accession negotiations with Albania and Macedonia.

The summit was attended by leaders from the Western Balkans - Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Kosovo, none of them European Union members - as well as heads of state and government of member states and top European Union officials. "There is no alternative", he said.

EU Council President Donald Tusk said the bloc would invest in infrastructure connections with the Balkans to boost development and bring them up to EU standards.

In public some European leaders played down the chances of a quick accession for the six Balkan states not in the EU while others warned of the dangers of losing the region.

A four-page annex, called the "Sofia Priority Agenda", sets the foundation for the creation of instruments for the support of the rule of law and good governance, including case-based peer-reviewed missions and backing for media pluralism. Serbia also signed a memorandum of understanding with the European Investment Bank, as well as issued a joint statement on the construction of the Bulgaria-Serbia gas interconnector.

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