Senior officials from the Baltic states and Poland on March 5 released a joint statement voicing their full backing for the European Union membership hopes of countries in the western Balkans. The statement was released at the end of a joint visit to the region and is reproduced below.
We, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, Lithuania and Poland as well as the Estonian Undersecretary for European Affairs, having paid a joint visit to North Macedonia and Albania on 3-5 March 2020, express our determined and unequivocal support for the European aspirations of the Western Balkan states and the firm, merit-based prospect of their full European Union membership.
In this context we strongly hope that the Council will agree this month to start the accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, following the European Commission’s renewed positive recommendations and assessment of both countries’ reform efforts as well as the Commission’s Communication on enhancing the accession process. This decision is needed to reaffirm the commitment and credibility of the EU enlargement policy.
As representatives of countries who have joined themselves the European Union 16 years ago, we share the common belief that the EU enlargement policy contributes to the stability, security and prosperity both in the Western Balkan region and Europe as a whole. The European integration of the Western Balkan countries should thus remain a strategic political objective for the EU.
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland remain committed to supporting and assisting the Western Balkan states in their continued reform efforts linked to the accession process, both bilaterally and in the framework of the European Union and other multilateral formats. The speed of the accession negotiations should be determined solely by the progress in reform areas set out by the Commission and the Council, adherence to the EU values and the Common Foreign and Security Policy alignment.