President: Western Balkans need clear EU membership prospect
President Andrzej Duda said in Tirana, Albania, on Thursday that "we do not accept a situation, in which Western Balkans states are taking part in a race, that does not have a finishing line." He declared Poland "will continue to appeal for a clear prospect of their EU membership."
Addressing a plenary session of the South-Eastern European countries' summit, held in Tirana on May 8 and 9, Andrzej Duda stressed that, "a clear goal and a predictable timeline of its achievement is of key importance for mobilisation and readiness to make a huge effort. But social discouragement and postponement of the membership prospect will have an unfavourable influence on the region," President Duda underlined.
He also expressed his conviction that, "there will be no stable Europe without a stable and integrated South-Eastern Europe," and stressed that Poland joined all actions designed to reach this goal. "Hence my presence in Tirana and our commitment to the complementary format of the Berlin Process," he added.
President Duda recalled that Poland's western city of Poznań will host the 6th annual Western Balkans Summit on July 4 and 5 as part of its presidency of the Berlin Process. "I am convinced that Poland and Central Europe should play a key role in the integration processes, within both EU and NATO structures," he emphasised.
Referring to the 20th anniversary of Poland's NATO membership and the 15th anniversary of its EU membership, Duda stressed he understood well Poland's Balkan friends and their dreams, and assured them of Poland's readiness to offer assistance and share experience.
"Poland can be an inspiration for many countries and proof that it is possible to overcome even the most difficult challenges - irrespective of hard and painful history - on the road to a united Europe," he said.
"I believe that integration of South-Eastern Europe with the EU is necessary for and needed by the two sides. All countries of the region belong to the European family taking into account geographical, historical, cultural and economic aspects," President Duda told the gathering.
Stressing that without South-Eastern Europe - together with its diversity and beautiful traditions - our continent will not start breathing fully, Duda declared that Poland will continue its appeals for a clear prospect of EU membership for the Western Balkan states.
He also said that countries of South-Eastern Europe should make the best use of the pre-accession period and closely integrate the region in the spirit of agreement and economic development. He also stressed that politicians representing the EU should do their best to create appropriate conditions for this development and agreement.
During a joint press conference, with the participation of the presidents of Albania, Croatia and Slovenia, Andrzej Duda stressed the need for the continuation of EU's open-door policy towards Western Balkan countries noting that "Europe needs South-Eastern Europe while South-Eastern Europe needs Europe."
President Duda stated that he was convinced that Western Balkan countries would become part of the EU in the future "if they are granted wise support" and stressed that the EU must always keep its doors open for new members.
He stressed that the question of the EU enlargement should be considered as equally important as Brexit in the future agenda of the EC and other EU institutions.
The Berlin process is an initiative of the German government started in 2014 to support the integration of the EU with six countries of the Western Balkans: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, as well as to strengthen cooperation in economic development and the building out of infrastructure. The EU countries involved in the initiative are Germany, France, Italy, Austria, the UK and Poland, which has participated since last year and from January this year holds the annual leadership. (PAP)