EU calls West Balkans to improve relations

Alarmed by simmering regional tensions, EU Foreign Relations Chief Federica Mogherini met West Balkan heads on 24 May in a bid to overcome differences and collaborate as they move towards joining the bloc. Leaders of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia met in Brussels, part of revived EU efforts to work more closely with the region after a recent string of spats. Bosnian Prime Minister Denis Zvisdic reportedly said 'EU membership is a goal for all six countries' and that regional projects were discussed, notably on energy infrastructure.

The meetings are held ahead of the 2017 Western Balkans Summit, scheduled for 12 July in Trieste, and is hosted by the Italian Presidency of the so-called ‘Berlin Process’ initiative for Balkan EU integration. The EU believes Russia has played a destabilising role in the region. Tensions are expected to rise as traditional Russia ally Montenegro is set to join NATO, a move that Moscow disapproves. Essential for peace and stability, Mogherini voiced hopes of ‘good neighbourly relations' while bolstering security, combatting radicalisation, and managing migrant flows.

About author: Elisabeth Gheorghe

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