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Mogherini: Europe will not be united without Western Balkans!

Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Frederica Mogherini | The Official CTBTO Photostream

EU High Representative for External Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, stated that as long as the Balkan countries not part of the European Union, Europe will not be united.

"The Balkan countries are located in the heart of Europe. Their geography, history, culture, cuisine, economics, and music talk about it. And there are no political boundaries that would prevent it. This is Europe, and we saw it when the refugee crisis came," Mogherini said.

The EU representative also pointed out that the European Union and the Balkans should and will be part of one union, expressing her hope that in the remaining two years of her mandate, progress will be made in establishing a road along which the Balkans will go to the European Union.

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker expressed interest in the idea of joining the Western Balkans to the European Union during the annual appeal to the members of the European Parliament.

The EU has developed a policy to support the gradual integration of the Western Balkan countries with the Union. On 1 July 2013, Croatia became the first of the seven countries to join, and Montenegro, Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania are official candidates. Accession negotiations and chapters have been opened with Montenegro and Serbia. Bosnia and Herzegovina (which submitted its membership application in early 2016) and Kosovo are potential candidate countries.

According to some sources, one important point that can play a role in this matter is that the EU remains the region’s biggest trade partner, with neither Russia nor Turkey capable of supplanting its role in economic development. Migration from the western Balkans also flows almost entirely to the EU, not to Turkey or Russia. That means EU financial support and investment, and offers of visa-free travel, still provide carrots to encourage peaceful coexistence and reforms.