Hahn says 2018 will be crucial year for accession process of western Balkans

The next year will be crucial in the accession process of the countries in the western Balkans, European Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, said in a speech at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) on Friday.

“2018 will be a crucial year and an opportunity to promote the accession of the western Balkans,” Hahn said, adding that the EU needs to restart the enlargement process by convincing candidate countries and member states of the EU that the European integration is in the interest of both parties.

Hahn said repeatedly that the EU will not accept in its midst countries which have unresolved problems with their neighbours. “We don’t want that. It’s a lesson from the past,” he said.

The Commissioner welcomed Greece’s positive role in the region’s European prospects and described the visit of a Turkish President to the country after so many decades as “very positive”, although, he added “not everything was positive.”

He also said the Commission will announce on February 2018 its strategy for the western Balkans, without providing more details.