- Tuesday, February 06, 2018 4:56 PM
Brussels/Strasbourg, 6 February 2018 (MIA) - The Western Balkans are part of Europe. We share the same history, the same geography, the same cultural heritage and the same opportunities and challenges within the European Union, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini told a joint press conference alongside EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn presenting the Western Balkans Strategy of the European Commission.
"The Strategy gives a shared, unequivocal and concrete perspective for EU integration for each and every one of the six partners on merit-based processes that are very well known. The need for reforms is clear so the citizens can enjoy the same rights, the same protections, the same standards as the citizens of the EU. The leaders and the people of the Balkans have made a clear choice, a choice of bringing the countries inside the Union, each at its own pace, each at its own time. Today we are telling them - we have made the same choice, the perspective for us is very clear as well," noted Mogherini.
2025, she said, this is not a target date, it is not a deadline, this is a perspective, a realistic perspective to conclude the negotiations for those who are already negotiating but also for those that might start negotiations in the near future.
"Let's bring the Western Balkans inside the European Union, not in a far away future, but in our generation. The months ahead will be intense, will be ambitious and hopefully they will be months of a turning point for the EU as well," the EU top official stated.
Mogherini said the Strategy contained six concrete initiatives that covered key areas, including rule of law, security and migration, socio-economic development, connectivity, digital agenda, reconciliation and good neighborly ties.
Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, said it was a historic opportunity and a positive moment that created motivation and optimism, although every one must do their homework.
"The Strategy and all the positive elements in it are not an invitation, they are simply channeling all the initiatives that we have started in the past. It's clear that conditions must be fulfilled. It's important to stress that we are not talking about 'softening' of our conditions for membership, but I think that this indicative date can create a kind of positive pressure on decision-makers, politicians in the region to implemented the reforms," concluded Hahn. ba/16:53
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