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Hahn: The least we owe to Western Balkans is honesty

Johannes Hahn at the presentation of 2019 Enlargement Package; Photo: European Union

STRASBOURG – Outgoing European Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn urged EU member states to clarify how serious their commitment is to the Western Balkans’ EU integration in a speech at the European Parliament Plenary debate.

He expressed his disappointment that accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania were not opened last week, saying that the overwhelming majority of member states were in favour of this step.

“North Macedonia and Albania are not to blame for this situation. Both countries did what they were asked to do and our reports on the countries acknowledge this”, stressed Hahn.

He emphasised that the region needs more breakthroughs akin to Prespa Agreement between Athens and Skopje and that the enlargement policy is an incentive for such steps.

“The enlargement policy is enshrined in the Treaty and it is not about being nice with our neighbours. It is about our rendezvous with history, completing the unification process that begun long ago. It is above all in our geostrategic interests”, Hahn stated.

He said he continues to hope for the positive outcome when EU leaders revert to this issue, which is set to happen before EU – Western Balkans Leaders’ Summit in Zagreb in May 2020.

“The Commission will continue to support Albania and North Macedonia in every way it can to ensure that the EU reforms continue to be implemented, in the interest of their citizens and to continue to help prepare them for their future in the EU”, Hahn concluded.

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