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European Union lauds commitment of Western Balkans to bloc's values
18 May 2018, 03:34 | Opal Carroll
First EU-Western Balkan Summit In 15 Years To Focus On Integration
The president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, said on Thursday he plans to propose the delivery of a financial package of 10 billion euro ($11.8 billion) to improve the transport and digital infrastructure in the Western Balkans. As such, the European Union has a lot of interest in continuing, upgrading and invest in a future to the relationship with the Western Balkans.
The EU is also wary of admitting new members before they settle their differences, particularly in a region still bedevilled by the aftermath of the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
Under the preliminary calculations, the projects have a combined value of 30 billion euro, Tajani said speaking through an interpreter during a news conference on the sidelines of the EU - Western Balkans summit in Sofia broadcast by Bulgarian TV channel Kanal 3.
Borissov highlighted what he saw as the achievements of the summit, such as the agreements concluded, and among other things, the message from Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his counterpart from Skopje, Zoran Zaev, that they had reached a "single option" on resolving the dispute over the use of the name "Macedonia".
"I believe that it took us too long since our last meeting in Thessaloniki 15 years ago, and this is why we chose to meet again in two years in Croatia". Upon his arrival in Sofia on Wednesday Ratas was welcomed by Bulgarian Prime Minister Bojko Borisov.
As for the other important impasse that is blocking the paths of two prospective European Union members, the stalled Serbia-Kosovo dialogue, mixed messages came from the two heads of state.
She said: "It is clear that all these countries have a clear accession perspective to the European Union".
Many in the European Union fear importing Western Balkan problems and feuds, especially at a time when the bloc is still recovering from economic and migration crises that have fuelled euro-scepticism among its own voters. "There is no alternative", he said. He also said that EU leaders at Wednesday's working dinner expressed determination to protect European companies from new United States sanctions on Iran.
The Sofia Priority Agenda, which sets out concrete steps to be taken by member states, underlines the need to strengthen the rule of law and governance, and reaffirms the EU's commitment to "enhancing support for judicial reform and efforts to fight corruption and organised crime, including capacity building for corruption prevention". Serbia also signed a memorandum of understanding with the European Investment Bank, as well as issued a joint statement on the construction of the Bulgaria-Serbia gas interconnector.
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