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Friday, July 20, 2018, 

Hahn: Regional cooperation crucial for Western Balkans’ EU path

Hahn: Regional cooperation crucial for Western Balkans’ EU path

London, 10 July 2018 (MIA) – In an interview with European Western Balkans published on Tuesday, EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn said that the Berlin Process has not only created a useful framework to make progress in transport and energy, the economy, people-to-people contacts and digital technologies, 'but has also contributed to setting a new vision for the region, based on its firm European perspective and regional cooperation'.

"The Berlin Process, set out a concrete vision for EU-Western Balkans relations, putting regional cooperation at the center," Commissioner Hahn said. "The idea is simple: we work together, we win together.

"Unless our partners cooperate on a regional level and maintain good neighborly relations, the Western Balkans cannot achieve sustainable progress on their respective European paths. This core idea will remain relevant for the years to come."

Hahn thinks that the Berlin Process will keep motivating regional leaders to cooperate.

"The region needs to demonstrate," Hahn said, "that it is ready to take control of its destiny, to overcome a difficult past to be a part of a shared future in the EU. That’s for the countries to do, of course. But the Berlin process can provide the carrot, and the stick, if need be."

He believes the EU future of the Western Balkans remains clear, and that the EU has been clear about it.

"President Macron’s statements were not against enlargement per se, they were more about the timing, or particularly the sequencing," Hahn said.

He added that the EU would continue to offer guidance and assistance, 'but the ball is in the court of the countries wishing to join the EU.'

"They need to deliver on the rule of law," Hahn said, "and not for ‘Brussels’, [but] for their own citizens, who want to live in countries with strong, thriving democratic systems and institutions, where minority rights are respected, where individuals and businesses can count on independent judiciary to protect them, and where corruption is effectively prevented and investigated. This is what the citizens rightly deserve and expect their governments to deliver." mr/13:14

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