ibusinesslines.com August 21, 2018

Sofia Declaration: The Future of the Western Balkans is European

18 May 2018, 03:36 | Erica Roy

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Bulgaria Changes in the Traffic in Sofia on 16-17 May in Connection with the EU- Western Balkans Summit

French President Emmanuel Macron said he wanted the countries, collectively referred to as the Western Balkans, to have a "supported dialogue, a perspective", but warned against hasty moves. The EPP has gathered in Sofia today with a sole objective - to reiterate our unequivocal support for a credible enlargement and European accession perspective of our Western Balkans partners.

Tusk also revealed the points discussed during the summit: "We discussed how to improve the Western Balkans".

The statement said the European Union is determined to strengthen and intensify its engagement at all levels to support the region's political, economic and social transformation, including through increased assistance based on tangible progress in the rule of law, as well as in socio-economic reforms, by the Western Balkans partners.

Leaders of the six Western Balkans states and the European Union met in the Bulgarian capital Sofia on May 17 for their first summit in 15 years.

"The EU welcomes the shared commitment of the Western Balkans partners to European values and principles, and to the vision of a strong, stable and united Europe, underpinned by our historic, cultural and geographic ties and by our mutual political, security and economic interests", the declaration said.

"We have just concluded a very good and fruitful EU-Western Balkans summit".

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

In February, the European Commission released its strategy for the Western Balkan countries called "A credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans". "I believe we have covered a major part of the distance, but there is still distance to cover", he said.

Despite the fact that French President Emmanuel Macron, with whom the prime minister met at the summit, is cautious about the enlargement, according to Pellegrini, Slovakia will support the accession of these countries to the European Union, even though he admitted that the European Union enlargement isn't a question of the next year or two.

Saying that he was addressing himself to the Western media, Borissov said that taken together, the countries of the Western Balkans had a GDP equivalent to that of Slovakia but a population smaller than that of Romania.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told reporters they spoke about the significance of the digital agenda, that is, the money that will be allocated for infrastructure providing the basis for economic growth.

"We have pinpointed one option that may be acceptable for both sides [but] we have to consult with the other political factors in our countries, with the presidents and with the other political leaders", Zaev cautioned in a press conference.

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