Belgrade – AFP
German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed, on Monday, that the accession of the Western Balkan countries to the European Union is in the bloc’s “absolute geostrategic interest” in the face of the influence of other powers in the region.
“We Europeans, mainly members of the union, must take into account that there is an absolute geostrategic interest for us to accept these countries in the union,” Merkel said after meeting Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade. She added: “We can see that there are setbacks, and that there is also an influence of many other regions in the world on the Balkans.”
“We must always remember the geostrategic importance of the rapprochement of these countries with the Union,” she added. Merkel will conclude Tuesday in Albania a trip that she started on Monday in Serbia, one of her last foreign trips, before stepping down from her post in the wake of the elections scheduled for September 26. In Tirana, Merkel will meet, on Tuesday, the leaders of six countries in the region: Albania, Bosnia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Kosovo and Serbia. These six countries began a process of rapprochement with Europe, but each of them took a different path on the path to joining the bloc.
The leaders in the race between these countries for European membership are Serbia and Montenegro, which began accession negotiations several years ago. And last year, the union gave the green light to start accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, but these negotiations have not started yet.
As for Bosnia and Kosovo, they do not yet have the status of a candidate for membership in the Union. Merkel acknowledged that these countries still have “a long way to go” to join the union. But it called for more progress toward building a common economic market in the Balkans, a process initiated by Serbia, Albania, and North Macedonia.
Slovenia, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, is preparing to hold a summit next month with the countries of the region with the aim of re-launching the enlargement process.
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