Sofia Declaration: The Future of the Western Balkans is European

Sofia Declaration: The Future of the Western Balkans is European

Sofia Declaration: The Future of the Western Balkans is European

"Next year the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe - and we will continue to work with our allies to protect our collective security and champion the European values that so many in Macedonia and the wider Western Balkans share".

The announcement came after the President of France Emmanuel Makron, criticized the idea of expanding the European Union through the Balkan countries. Consecutively, the European Union should focus on the fact that third forces are trying to penetrate the Western Balkans.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday said he supported Western Balkan nations' aspirations to join the bloc but added that "great care and discipline" was needed while integrating the countries with the rest of the community.

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 launched a stinging attack on Trump while adding that he was helping Europe in a way because it had "got rid of all illusions" that it can rely on Washington.

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Serbia and Montenegro are already in membership talks and the Commission has suggested they could join the European Union by 2025 - a target regarded with considerable skepticism by some officials in Brussels and European Union governments.

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. "But I think we need to look at any new enlargement with a lot of prudence and rigor", Macron said.

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

"We reaffirmed our mutual commitment to the European perspective for the whole region".

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, whose country will take over the EU's rotating presidency in July, stressed the importance of keeping the door open.

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"If there is no European perspective in the Balkans, then the Turkish influence and other influence becomes stronger and stronger".

"We want to demonstrate that we care about socioeconomic development in the region here and now". Greece, however, have opposed this, with Athens saying it implies a claim to a Greek region with the same name.

The leaders of Macedonia and Greece met on the sidelines of the summit although officials played down the chance of any deal. They also differ on the potential timeline for accepting new members from the region.

Meanwhile, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, was notably absent after he announced he wouldn't share a table with Kosovan representatives.

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