European leaders back Western Balkans’ integration

BELGRADE, Serbia

Presidents of fourteen Central and Southeast European countries voiced strong support Friday (June 19th) for the Western Balkans’ integration into the EU and its visa liberalisation process, media reported. Attending a two-day summit in the northern town of Novi Sad, the leaders stressed the entire region’s future depends on its EU membership prospects.

Serbian President Boris Tadic said the Western Balkans’ EU integration is in the interest of Europe’s integrity and security, and said abolishing visa requirements for countries in the region would be the clearest sign they are welcome in the EU. Croatian President Stipe Mesic said his country is striving for all Western Balkan countries’ EU accession. “United Europe will make no sense if its southeastern part remains isolated,” Mesic said.

The presidents also called for better distribution of energy resources, including gas supplies, and for enhanced regional co-operation to address the global economic crisis. Attending the Novi Sad summit were the presidents of Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Italy, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine.

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