Economic crisis, EU reform make western Balkan integration more difficult

09:11, November 12, 2010      

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The economic crisis and reform of the EU institutions have made the accession process more difficult for the West Balkan countries, according to Milica Devic, head of the Serbian office of EU integration.

Speaking at an international conference on western Balkan integration at the International Center for Democratic Transition (ICDT) in Budapest on Thursday, Devic said that despite the more unfavorable circumstances the integration of the western Balkans will continue as EU expansion is in the interest not just of the region but also of the EU.

On the issue of Kosovan independence, Devic said the Serbian government was willing to enter constructive dialogue with Kosovo.

Edmon Haxhinasto, the Albanian foreign minister, welcomed support for western Balkan integration, and said his country was fully committed to the integration goal, and ready to undertake the reforms necessary. Haxhinasto welcomed the Hungarian government's plan to make the integration of the region a priority during its EU presidency agenda in the first half of 2011.

Andrej Plenkovic, Croatian foreign minister and secretary of state for EU integration said his country had successfully concluded most of the EU negotiations. Plenkovic said he expects Croatia to officially join the EU in 2012. The Hungarian presidency of the EU in the first half of 2011, Plenkovic added, will help the Croatian accession process.

Nebojsa Kaluderovic, deputy foreign minister of Montenegro stressed the importance of regional integration for stability in the region. Montenegro still had a lot to do to secure accession but it's economic and investment outlook was favorable, Kaluderovic said.

Stefano Sannino, deputy head of EU Integration for the EU Commission, said integration of the western Balkans was a complicated process and that it wasn't advisable to make precise forecasts or schedules."Countries striving to join the EU should be assured that many member countries support their efforts including several of the founding members. Successful integration of the Western Balkans will be a success for the EU too."

Source: Xinhua


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