Merkel advocated EU enlargement towards the Balkans

Joining the European Union by a number of Western Balkan countries is of great geostrategic interest for the EU, thinks German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She made this statement after the meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade on September 13.

“I know that there is a perception that the [European integration] process is slow and the European side is coming up with new demands. However, we see results and progress… All EU member states should keep in mind that there is a great geostrategic interest in ensuring that all these countries [of the Western Balkans] are accepted into the EU,” Merkel said.

She explained that she considers six states in the region – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Northern Macedonia, Montenegro and self-proclaimed Kosovo – as future EU members.

According to the German chancellor, these countries “have a long way to go to become members of the European Union.

In addition, Merkel pointed to the importance of the Berlin process on the situation of European integration of the Western Balkan countries. This diplomatic initiative was launched in 2014 and aims to strengthen EU engagement with the region.

On September 1, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that the issue of the republic’s accession to the European Union depended on the country’s relations with self-proclaimed Kosovo.

Serbia got the official status of an EU candidate country on March 1, 2012. In December 2013, the EU Council approved a decision to start accession negotiations for Serbia, and in January 2014 the first intergovernmental conference was held in Brussels.