German Chancellor visits Albanian Monday, Tirana, the capital, where he is due to attend a summit of Western Balkan countries.
Olaf Scholz is accompanying European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and other leaders to work on the path to membership of the six countries in the region.
What is the program ?
However, it is not yet clear whether Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic will join the group.
The summit is taking place under the auspices of the Berlin Process, launched in 2014 to advance Western Balkan states’ accession to the EU. The process was initiated by Angela Merkel when she was German chancellor, but this is the first time the summit has taken place in the region itself.
The 2003 European Council summit in the Greek city of Thessaloniki made Western Balkan integration a priority for EU expansion.
“It is clear that 20 years after the accession of these countries was promised, this must also take place quickly,” Scholz said on Monday in Tirana, the Albanian capital.
Scholz has already made repeated speeches calling for an acceleration of the process.
“Our doors are open,” von der Leyen said, adding: “More must be done.”
The leaders will be joined by European Council President Charles Michel and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Different steps towards membership
The first Western Balkan countries to launch accession negotiations were Serbia and Montenegro a few years ago.
They were followed by Albania and Macedonia last year, while Bosnia and Kosovo have only just begun the first stage of the integration process.
Brussels is trying to restart the entire EU enlargement process, which has been stalled since 2013, when the last country to join was Croatia.
Russia’s war in Ukraine has refocused efforts to integrate the Western Balkans into the 27-member bloc.
rmt,rc/wmr (AP, dpa)