Slovenian President Borut Pahor speaks at a press conference after the Brdo-Brioni leaders’ meeting in Tirana, Albania, May 9, 2019 REUTERS / Florion Goga
Slovenian President Borut Pahor on Friday called on the European Union to speed up the process of admitting six Western Balkan countries to the bloc, calling it a decisive step for maintaining stability in the region.
Europe and the United States say the Western Balkans, including Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia, will eventually join the EU after the ethnic wars of the 1990s.
After a meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Pahor said that the EU enlargement to the Western Balkans was a “geopolitical necessity”, but that the region should jointly move towards membership in the bloc.
“Enlargement should be faster … It would be great if more or less all countries in the region could join the EU together,” Pahor said through an interpreter.
Pahor said he hoped the countries in the region would “send such a message to Brussels” at a regional summit in Slovenia next week.
“Only on condition of relatively quick accession of all countries of this region (Western Balkans) to the EU … (region) can preserve peace, security, stability.”
Of the former Yugoslav republics, Slovenia and Croatia have joined the EU, Serbia and Montenegro are candidates for membership, while Bosnia and Kosovo, now an independent former southern province of Serbia, lag far behind.
Bulgaria refuses to allow North Macedonia, another former Yugoslav republic, to move forward in its statement to the EU, citing linguistic and cultural disputes. read more
Vucic, a former nationalist who advocated European integration, said Serbia “has nothing against a holistic approach.”
“You will always have a progress-based approach … but we have nothing against a more important geopolitical approach to the Western Balkans,” he said.
Albania, which is also part of the Western Balkans region, became a candidate in 2014.
The process of joining the membership slowed in 2019 after France and the Netherlands opposed it due to the country’s lack of efforts to improve democracy and fight corruption.
(In the seventh paragraph, corrected that Kosovo was a former province of Serbia and not a former Yugoslav republic)
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