(14 September 2021) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday that EU membership of the Western Balkans region, a theatre of competition between the West, China and Russia, is of absolute geostrategic interest for the bloc.
EU members “should always keep in mind that there is an absolute geostrategic interest for us to really accept these countries into the European Union,” said Merkel, who steps down as chancellor later this year.
The six Balkans nations – Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia – all aspire to join the European Union and are on different stages on the path towards membership.
Ever since Croatia became the last country to join the EU in 2013, the appetite for adding new member states has shrunk considerably. But that has prompted warnings that Brussels risks opening the door to outside influence on its doorstep, notably from Beijing and Moscow.
Slovenia, which holds the EU rotating presidency, is preparing a summit in October of countries from the region to relaunch the enlargement process. (Euractiv / AFP)