June 19, 2018

Sofia Summit Declaration, Western Balkans Need To Fight Crime & Corruption

18 May 2018, 03:36 | Taylor George

Today's West Balkan Summit set to address 'digital and human connectivity'

PES leaders call for stepping up of EU accession for Balkan countries

The EU welcomes the Western Balkans partners commitment to the primacy of democracy and the rule of law, especially the fight against corruption and organised crime, good governance, as well as respect for human rights and rights of persons belonging to minorities.

European Union leaders are meeting their counterparts from six Balkan countries in Sofia, a day after a dinner that sought to forge a united front in the face of US President Donald Trump's "capricious assertiveness" on the Iran nuclear deal and trade tariffs. "This is the best illustration that the integration with the Western Balkans is a top priority for the EU", Tusk said.

According to Ratas, the European Commission supports efforts to agree on a permanent exception from the USA import tariffs on steel and aluminium.

The European Union has to further promote its influence in the Western Balkans as otherwise, the regional states would turn to Russian Federation or Turkey, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday.

Tusk again sharply criticised the Trump administration, a day after he said in regard to it that "some might say, with friends like that, who needs enemies".

Tusk said that while there were low expectations regarding Iran, there were high expectations regarding Washington.

In the summit declaration, a draft of which was obtained by AFP, the Europeans outlined the theme of "connectivity" with investments in transport and infrastructure.

She believes that this will be the Balkan countries with which negotiations were under way for membership.

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Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, whose country will take over the EU's rotating presidency in July, stressed the importance of keeping the door open. "I do not think 2025 is a realistic date for the European Union enlargement".

"The summit may be a symbolic act, but it can again trigger a little more dynamism", he said.

"We want to demonstrate that we care about socioeconomic development in the region here and now".

The EU is also wary of admitting new members before they settle their differences, particularly in a region still bedevilled by the aftermath of the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Mrs May and Mr Zaev will also discuss the ongoing dispute with Greece over the country's name - a northern area of the country is also called Macedonia, and Greece has been calling for a name change since 1991.

But, highlighting how long and hard their road to membership is likely to be, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of European Union member Spain stayed away from the talks since Madrid refuses to recognise the independence of Kosovo.

Representatives from Greece and Macedonia met on the fringes of the Sofia summit in an attempt to finally come to an agreement.

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