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Hungarian President Pledges to Fast-Track EU Accession for Western Balkan Countries

Hungary will speed up the accession process for Western Balkan countries to the European Union in the second half of next year when it holds the EU’s rotating presidency, the President of Hungary, Katalin Novak, has said.

According to her, the European Union has failed to do its homework when it comes to this issue after they should have joined the bloc a long time ago, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

Regarding the EU enlargement in the Western Balkans, she stressed that Hungary is a factor that cannot be ignored, emphasising this country’s importance to be represented at the Berlin Process summit at the presidential level.

Today is also important because Hungary, too, has finally joined the Berlin Process in the form that we can be here and express Hungary’s position at the highest level, which is clearly in favour of enlargement in the Western Balkans. Katalin Novak

Ahead of the summit held in Tirana, Novak said that Hungary and the EU need the Western Balkans just as they need stability in the region.

She stressed that among the main reasons that led her to accept Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama’s invitation to this summit was to ensure that Budapest would do anything it could so the Western Balkan nations could be part of the bloc as soon as possible.

The Berlin Process was created in 2014 as a platform to help tighten cooperation between Western Balkan countries, more specifically, Kosovo, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.

During this summit, held on Monday in Albania’s capital, a new growth plan related to the integration of these six countries into the EU was also discussed.

In the meeting participated the European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen and the European Council President, Charles Michel, together with the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz.

According to Von der Leyen, the EU’s new growth plan for these states could permit them to enter portions of the EU single market on a case-by-case basis in return for demonstrated reforms.

The German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, also expressed his hopes that the Berlin Process would speed up the integration of these six countries into the EU.

“The Berlin process is the best instrument to not only unleash the full potential of regional cooperation but also to speed up the integration of all Western Balkan countries,”Scholz

Western Balkan Countries’ Accession to EU

These six Western Balkan countries are at different phases on their journey towards becoming EU members.

While Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia launched membership negotiations a few years ago, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina are in the first step of the integration process.

Montenegro applied for EU membership in 2008, while the EU-Montenegro accession negotiations started in June 2012.

North Macedonia applied for EU membership in March 2004, and in December 2005, the Council decided to grant the country candidate status with the accession negotiations beginning in April 2018.

The accession negotiations with Serbia began in January 2014, while the country officially applied for EU membership in December 2009 and was granted EU candidate status in March 2012.

Albania also applied for EU membership in April 2009 and was granted candidate status in June 2014, while the accession negotiations with this country began in April 2018.

Accession negotiations for Bosnia and Kosovo have still not begun.

Bosnia and Herzegovina applied for EU membership in February 2016, while negotiations are set to begin later this year or early 2024.

Source : Schengenvisainfo