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Dec 04, 2019

Várhelyi encourages speedy EU accession talks with Balkans

European commissioner for enlargement and neighborhood policy, Olivér Várhelyi has said the European Union must offer the Balkan countries a credible outlook for joining the bloc.

European commissioner for enlargement and neighborhood policy, Olivér Várhelyi has said the European Union must offer the Balkan countries a credible outlook for joining the bloc.

Addressing the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, Várhelyi encouraged accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia to take place as soon as possible. He said the two countries had done everything required of them, adding that the EU had a duty to start the accession talks. He also urged dialogue with member states that still had reservations about the bloc’s enlargement.

Várhelyi said the importance of integrating the Western Balkan region must not be questioned. He added that the new European Commission will assign even greater importance to the issue of enlargement and will work to enhance the policy’s credibility.

The commissioner said it was regrettable that EU leaders had failed to reach an agreement at the October summit on starting the accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia. Várhelyi vowed to support the commission’s efforts to start the talks with both countries.

Várhelyi added that the commission wants the General Affairs Council to be in a position to greenlight the talks by March. The commissioner said it was important that the EU send a positive message to the Western Balkan countries before next May’s EU-Western Balkan summit in Zagreb.

Photo credit: Mandiner