Hungary will accelerate the process of Western Balkan countries joining the European Union in the second half of next year when it holds the rotating EU presidency, Hungarian President Katalin Novak said.
According to her, the European Union has not done its homework on this issue when it should have joined the bloc a long time ago. SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
Regarding the enlargement of the EU to the Western Balkans, she stressed that Hungary is an essential factor, emphasizing the importance for this country to be represented at the top of the Berlin process at presidential level.
Today is also important because Hungary has finally joined the Berlin process, so we can be here and express at the highest level Hungary’s position, clearly in favor of the enlargement of the Western Balkans.
Ahead of the Tirana summit, Novak said Hungary and the EU need the Western Balkans just as they need stability in the region.
She stressed that one of the main reasons that led her to accept the invitation of Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama to this summit was to guarantee that Budapest would do everything in its power so that the Western Balkan countries could be part of the block as quickly as possible.
The Berlin Process was established in 2014 as a platform to strengthen cooperation between the countries of the Western Balkans, specifically Kosovo, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.
During this summit, held on Monday in the Albanian capital, a new growth plan linked to the integration of these six countries into the EU was also discussed.
The meeting was attended by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, as well as the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz.
According to Von der Leyen, the EU’s new growth plan for these states could allow them to access parts of the EU single market on a case-by-case basis in exchange for demonstrated reforms.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also expressed his hope that the Berlin process would accelerate the integration of these six countries into the EU.
“The Berlin process is the best instrument not only to unlock the full potential of regional cooperation, but also to accelerate the integration of all Western Balkan countries. »
Accession of Western Balkan countries to the EU
These six Western Balkan countries are at different stages of their journey towards EU membership.
While Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia launched accession negotiations a few years ago, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina are in the first stage of the integration process.
Montenegro applied for EU membership in 2008, while accession negotiations between the EU and Montenegro began in June 2012.
North Macedonia applied to become a member of the EU in March 2004, and in December 2005 the Council decided to grant it candidate country status, with accession negotiations starting in April 2018.
Accession negotiations with Serbia began in January 2014, while the country officially applied for EU membership in December 2009 and was granted EU candidate status in March 2012.
Albania also applied to become a member of the EU in April 2009 and was granted candidate status in June 2014, while accession negotiations with the country began in April 2018.
Accession negotiations for Bosnia and Kosovo have still not started.
Bosnia and Herzegovina applied for EU membership in February 2016, with negotiations expected to begin later this year or early 2024.
At the same time, Kosovo officially submitted its application to join the European Union on December 14. Last year.