Spain supports the addition of the Western Balkans to the EU

The Western Balkans are an integral part of the European Union and Spain fully supports the region’s integration into the 27-member bloc, the Spanish Prime Minister said on Monday.

Pedro Sánchez was in Tirana, the capital of Albania, on Monday, on the first trip of a Spanish head of state to the country. The visit was the last leg of Sánchez’s trip to the Western Balkans that previously took him to Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and North Macedonia.

“For Spain, Europe cannot be conceived without the incorporation of the Western Balkans into the EU,” said Sánchez at the press conference with his Albanian counterpart Edi Rama. The incorporation of the Balkans will strengthen the EU, he added.

“On this trip, I want to underline it, we want to give a clear, resounding, unequivocal sign of the relevance of the Western Balkans for Spain,” said Sánchez.

The 27-member bloc agreed to start accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia late last month, a long-overdue step on the Balkan nations’ path to EU membership that has now gained momentum with the war in Ukraine.

The countries of the Western Balkans are at different stages of integration into the EU. Serbia and Montenegro have already started talks, while Bosnia and Kosovo have only signed the Stabilization and Association Agreement, the first step in a long process.

EU officials have recently tried to encourage governments in the region to press ahead with reforms amid concerns about Moscow’s efforts to increase its influence in the Balkans.

Prime Minister Rama said that due to Russian influence in the region, the Western Balkan countries should be “determined to continue the path of strengthening ties that build peace.”

Albania has supported all EU sanctions on Russia. Sánchez said that these sanctions are not directed against the Russian people, but are intended to force their leaders to return to reality.

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