Europe Needs Sway Over Western Balkans to Stem Russian Influence - Macron

Thaci meets Merkel Dialogue is the only alternative in the Balkans

"The EU is and always will be the most dependent partner of the Western Balkans" according to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk.

Today's summit is aimed at revitalising the recently less active relations of the European Union with its neighbours in the Western Balkans.

Much work is to be done before the European Union can take in new members.

The EU welcomes the contribution of the Western Balkans partners to its Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) in all its aspects and expects a progressive deepening of cooperation in this area, especially an enhanced level of alignment, notably on issues where major common interests are at stake.

Mrs May is due to meet the Macedonian prime minister, Zoran Zaev, in the capital Skopje.

"We talked about other infrastructure projects, one of which is the construction of the Nis-Pristina highway".

However, Bulgaria's Prime Minister, Boyko Borissov, who hosted the summit, told the press that Greece and Macedonia had "essentially clinched a deal" but that "it was their secret that will be shared first at home". The 2015 nuclear agreement is an important element of regional peace and security so we chose to support it regardless of the United States' decision.

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

Many in the European Union fear importing Western Balkan problems and feuds, especially at a time when the bloc is still recovering from economic and migration crises that have fuelled euro-scepticism among its own voters.

The six Western Balkan countries are not mentioned by name and are referred to as "partners", as supposed to "states" or "countries", in an apparent effort to ease concerns about the reference to Kosovo's status.

A four-page annex, called the "Sofia Priority Agenda", sets the foundation for the creation of instruments for the support of the rule of law and good governance, including case-based peer-reviewed missions and backing for media pluralism. These include the "Peace highway" between Nis in Serbia and Pristina in Kosovo and the Blue Highway along the Adriatic coast.

The western Balkans was plagued by war and civil unrest in the 1990s and Brussels has said all would-be members from the region must crack down on corruption and organized crime and improve their democratic standards to stand a chance of joining the bloc.

"Part of the financing will come from the EU budget, while the remainder will be provided through loans from the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB)", Tajani said.

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