Over the past 24 hours, EU diplomacy has shown a dramatically increased interest in the Western Balkans’ attempts to join the Union.
The sudden interest from representatives of Germany, Hungary, Poland and the European Commission comes at a time when French President Emmanuel Macron and some other diplomats are calling for a slowdown in the accession process for the Balkan countries.
The only option for the EU to breathe easy in the future is to include Western Balkan and former Soviet Union countries, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said.
“I especially regret that former Soviet republics, such as Ukraine and Belarus, as well as some Balkan countries were not able to keep up with the rest of the region,” he said.
“It is our joint obligation to help them and to unite Europe together, once and for all, so that we can start breathing easy with our western and eastern lungs,” he explained.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that to her, the Western Balkans represents a region without which there is no united Europe.
“We spoke about the region of the Western Balkans, we did not speak about it only from the perspective of Hungary, but also from a German perspective. It is important that those countries have a perspective and can become members of the European Union,” Merkel said, adding that the Western Balkans is a “geostrategically important region” for the EU.
Representatives of the EU and the Western Balkans are to meet in Helsinki soon, but some say there are not many reasons for optimism.
“I think that (Federica) Mogherini is trying to do something at the end of her mandate. We see that there is a big problem with the fact that she also invited the Foreign Affairs Minister of Kosovo, (Behgjet) Pacolli,” said analyst Aleksandar Popov, arguing that it is questionable whether Serbia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Ivica Dacic will participate in the meeting because of that.
“I am certain that it will not bring anything significant,” Popov said of the upcoming meeting.