The path towards membership of the European Union is extremely slow. The last time a new country joined the bloc was in 2013, when Croatia was admitted. Besides Turkey, which began its integration process in 1987, six Western Balkan countries are also on the waiting list; Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia have candidate status, while Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo are potential candidates.
Last week, outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Serbia and Albania, where she met with the leaders of the six Balkan countries. At press conference In Belgrade, Merkel said that there is an absolute geostrategic interest for current EU members in the Western Balkans joining the bloc, and that there is a there is still a long way to go for aspiring countries.
“We see (…) that there is also influence from many other regions of the world,” Merkel said at a joint press conference with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, referring to Russia, China and to Turkey, whose strategy to seduce consists of offering bonuses without asking for bonuses. reforms.
After the meeting with Merkel, Bosnia Prime Minister Zoran Tegeltija responded that “the EU is creating the illusion of an open enlargement policy while keeping the prospects of membership as remote as possible. Changing such a policy would give impetus to boosting reforms” .
Coincidence or not, on the same day that Merkel began her two-day farewell visit to the Western Balkans, the pro-government Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet published a meeting with the European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi.
In this interview, Várhelyi asserted that “the Afghan crisis has shown that it has serious consequences if we are not strong enough and coherent in our geopolitical choices.” The commissioner went on to say that the EU was “also present in Afghanistan due to such a geopolitical decision, and (it) failed. (…) However, the Western Balkans are geographically much closer to us than the Afghanistan. It follows that the number of Europe “A choice must be to integrate the region. We must keep our promises to the Western Balkans! For me, this is one of the most important lessons of the Afghan situation.”
The next EU-Balkans summit will take place next month, but the wait linked to the enlargement process does not benefit anyone. Last year, Brexit demonstrated that there is also an opposite direction – a direction that will be debated in Hungary and Poland this year, as it was in Greece ten years ago.
photo by Guillaume Périgois
Call to action
Collective aid provides food and relief to refugees in the Balkans