News archive - Western Balkans en route for closer EU ties, insists Rehn

Speaking on "The EU and the Western Balkans: the Critical Year of 2009" on September 18, 2008, European Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said The Irish 'no' to the Lisbon Treaty should not be allowed to affect the process of enlargement. The process is on track, he insisted: the June European Council reaffirmed the EU accession perspective of the Western Balkans; since then, the EU has opened further negotiation chapters with both Turkey and Croatia; and the EU has signed Stabilisation and Association agreements with Bosnia and Herzegovina and with Serbia.

"In the Balkans, countries that recently were at war are now busy setting up regional cooperation, an energy community, a transport community and a free trade area. They are all preparing for EU membership".

He was speaking at the conference on the Western Balkans organised by the Czech foreign affairs ministry in Prague. He added that dialogue on visa liberalisation for the Western Balkan countries is progressing, and will reach a crucial state during the first half of 2009.

Much remains to be done on such key issues as the fight against corruption or the reform of public administration and judiciary, said the Commissioner. Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina face the challenge of implementing their Stabilisation and Association Agreements, including the trade-related provisions. But in the light of events in the Caucasus, "cementing democracy and the rule of law in the Western Balkans and Turkey and encouraging their progress towards the EU is all the more important for stability and security in Europe", he concluded.

Source: Enlargement Newsletter

Entry created by Elke Dall on October 24, 2008
Modified on October 24, 2008