NewsEuropeThe Balkans applaud the EU's "new mentality" after a summit with agreements on energy, education and roaming

The Balkans applaud the EU’s “new mentality” after a summit with agreements on energy, education and roaming

Archive – Flag of the European Union (Archive) – BEATA ZAWRZEL / ZUMA PRESS / CONTACT PHOTO

The leaders of the Balkans have celebrated this Tuesday the “new mentality” of the European Union towards the region after the summit held in Albania that has confirmed a new cooperation agenda in the field of energy, education and ‘roaming’ with the war in Ukraine as a backdrop and the renewed aspiration to join the European bloc.

At a press conference after the meeting between the leaders of the EU and the Balkans, the host, the Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama, described the summit held for the first time in a Balkan country as a “milestone”, assuring that it shows Europe’s “geostrategic” treatment of the region.

Rama has celebrated that “good news” comes out of the meeting to be able to advance in European reforms and participate in community mechanisms before accessing the community club, after verifying the “common understanding” that while the countries of the region do their “homework” for adhesion they must have “support” and “be closer” to the bloc.

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The agreements to reinforce the energy transition in the area and turn the Balkans into a ‘hub’ to cut dependence on Russian hydrocarbons, allow Balkan university students to participate in the Erasmus program or the alliance of universities and cut roaming rates between the two regions from 2023.

“We need to have the tools of the accession process to make institutions stronger and reinforce the systems to have functional states. We need to do our homework, but it is historic that spaces and support mechanisms are being created that bring us closer without waiting to be members of the EU”, stressed the leader of Albania, thanking the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, for not letting the European integration of the region “die of agony”.

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During the press conference, Von der Leyen indicated that a message of unity came from the summit and the intention to jointly address the consequences of the war in Ukraine, at which time he reflected on how Russian aggression has intensified relations with the Balkans and reinvigorated the accession process.

According to the German conservative, in times of crisis like the one Europe is going through with the war in Ukraine “you look at the essence of things.” “We are a Union of values ​​and I have had the deep impression that in these months, which are transformative times for the EU, we have felt this transformative movement and we have taken the same direction”, she has underlined about the Balkan region.

Along the same lines, Michel has indicated that it is important to “advance” in the accession process and several leaders have expressed themselves in favor of accelerating their entry into the EU, admitting that the war in Ukraine has fueled a policy that until then had been weighed down by blockades.

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“Thanks to the political will we were able to unblock and relaunch the process,” he said about the opening of EU accession negotiations for Albania and Macedonia in July after years of waiting, to insist that the agreements sealed this Tuesday in Tirana are projects “concrete” ones that come from pre-war exchanges with the Balkans and that have now materialized.

Regarding the consideration of the candidate status for Bosnia and Herzegovina, after the positive opinion of the European Commission in October, the president of the European Council has avoided advancing any decision of the Twenty-seven, assuring that they will take it when they meet on December 15, if He has well said that he hopes that a “positive signal” will be sent to Sarajevo.

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