Spain’s prime minister said on Monday that the Western Balkans are an integral part of the European Union and that Spain fully supports the region’s integration into the 27-member bloc.
Pedro Sanchez was in Tirana, the capital of Albania, on Monday, on the first visit of a Spanish head of state to the country. The trip was the final leg of Sánchez’s visit to the Western Balkans, which had previously taken him to Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and North Macedonia.
“Europe could not be imagined without the Iberian Peninsula… Obviously, Spain could not imagine Europe without the Western Balkans joining the European Union,” Sánchez said in a press conference with his Albanian counterpart Edi Ram. May go.” He said the inclusion of the Balkans would strengthen the European Union.
“On this visit, I want to underline, we want to give a clear, brilliant, clear indication of the relevance of the Western Balkans for Spain,” Sanchez said.
The 27-member bloc agreed late last month to begin accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia, a long-overdue step on the Balkan countries’ path to EU membership that is now gaining momentum with the war in Ukraine. Already happened.
The countries of the Western Balkans are in various stages of integration into the European Union. Serbia and Montenegro have already started negotiations, while Bosnia and Kosovo have only signed a stabilization and association agreement, the first step in a long process.
EU officials have recently tried to encourage governments in the region to move forward with reforms amid concerns about Moscow’s efforts to increase its influence in the Balkans.
Prime Minister Ram said that because of Russian influence in the region, Western Balkan countries should be “determined to continue down the path of strengthening peace-building ties”.
Albania supports all EU sanctions on Russia. Sanchez said these sanctions are not directed against the Russian people, but are intended to force their leaders to return to reality.