Western Balkan nations press EU aspirations at Poland summit

World News

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Government ministers from six Western Balkan nations that aspire to join the European Union met with their counterparts from some EU member nations Thursday in Poland to discuss the status of the bloc’s membership process, which has been lacking momentum.

Foreign, interior and economy ministers from membership candidates Montenegro, Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania, as well as potential candidates Bosnia and Kosovo, are seeking reassurance the road to accession is clear after some European leaders raised doubts about the EU’s openness to expanding.

French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated Monday that he thinks the EU has internal work to do that takes priority over taking in new members. He said he would “refuse any kind of enlargement before a deep reform of our institutional functioning.”

Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said at Thursday’s gathering that including Western Balkans nations in the EU would increase regional stability and development and spread the EU’s values to more of Europe.

“Without the Western Balkans, Europe cannot be seen as fully united, in the geographical as well as in the geopolitical point of view,” Czaputowicz said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Theresa May, Polish President Andrzej Duda and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki plan to join the gathering Friday.

Morawiecki met with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic on Thursday to discuss the EU integration prospects for the Western Balkans, among other issues.

Poland is hosting the summit in Poznan because it currently presides over the so-called Berlin Process that brings the Western Balkan nations together with EU member states. Initiated by Germany, the process is meant to promote EU membership for the Western Balkans although there is no set time frame.

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Associated Press writer Dusan Stojanovic in Belgrade contributed to this report.

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