Published: Fri, May 18, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

PES leaders call for stepping up of European Union accession for Balkan countries

PES leaders call for stepping up of European Union accession for Balkan countries

The summit was attended by leaders from the Western Balkans - Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and Kosovo, none of them European Union members - as well as heads of state and government of member states and top European Union officials.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU executive would launch on Friday the process of activating a "blocking statute" - legislation banning EU companies from complying with US sanctions on Iran and which does not recognise any court rulings that enforce American penalties.

"I am convinced that the EU is the only partner that cares genuinely about the stability of the entire region and a prosperous future for its peoples", said Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council. I see no future for the Western Balkans other than European. "We have heard the problems of the Bulgarian carriers".

"We didn't pretend today that everything is clear and simple".

The first of which is Spain failing to recognise the independence of Kosovo as a state. Upon his arrival in Sofia on Wednesday Ratas was welcomed by Bulgarian Prime Minister Bojko Borisov. At a meeting, the two discussed European countries' support for regional co-operation, security cooperation and counter-terrorism, the media reported.

FYROM, since the collapse of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, has insisted on its desire to simply be called "Macedonia".

Even the Macedonian and Greek leaders, Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipras, who made the most substantive breakthrough of the day, were careful to lay out the road of domestic negotiations about the "name" compromise that lies ahead, instead of focusing on the achievement itself.

The leaders of Macedonia and Greece met on the sidelines of the summit although officials played down the chance of any deal.

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"They should continue to have this freedom", he said on arriving for a second day of European Union leaders' talks in the Bulgarian capital.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (bottom left) was straightforward when she said enlargment was not on the table at the Sofia Summit.

Poland, Italy and Austria want the quick accession of Western Balkan nations.

As for the other important impasse that is blocking the paths of two prospective European Union members, the stalled Serbia-Kosovo dialogue, mixed messages came from the two heads of state.

But with French oil company Total saying it will up sticks if the U.S. does not grant it a waiver and the world's largest container shipping firm Moller-Maersk saying it would quit the country, Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel appear to be fighting an uphill battle.

The participants noted that the social partners and other civil society organizations, both at European Union and national level, must be meaningfully involved in the entire process of integrating the Western Balkan countries into the EU.

Leaders of the Western Balkan countries signed a statement supporting the digital agenda for their region. "What really matters is the determination of applicants in implementing reforms".

However, EU officials say there is no easy way to protect EU firms from US sanctions and that it will take time for the bloc to devise what will likely be a complex mix of national and EU-level measures.

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