Saturday, October 31, 2009

U.S. encouraging Balkan EU integration through Athens

31 October 2009 | 10:13 | Source: Danas

BELGRADE -- Daily Danas writes that the U.S. is working with Greece to coordinate an integration of the Western Balkans into the European Union by 2014.

Sources from international circles and the Serbian government told the daily that America wants to end the “Balkan issue” as soon as possible and ensure lasting peace and stability in the region.

The U.S. has found its best ally for this in Athens, which is both close to the U.S. and Balkans countries, including Serbia.

The desired date for countries of the Western Balkans to join the EU, according to domestic and international speculation, is June 28, 2014.

Washington’s plan came to light in the so-called “road map” present by Athens, which proposes that Serbia and the rest of the Western Balkans enter the EU on the 100-year anniversary of the start of World War I.

Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić was also the first international official to meet with newly appointed Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who also mention a plan for the Balkans joining the EU in 2014.

Former foreign minister of the then federal union of Serbia-Montenegro, Aleksandra Joksimović, said that it is logical for the U.S. to support such a plan, because it sees the integration of the Balkans into the EU as the best solution for all regional problems.

“The European integration of the region would decrease tensions and neuralgic points which are of key importance to America, such as Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. It should be taken into consideration that formally, such an initiative can come from the EU itself, and not from the U.S. There is also the fact that the idea could come from small EU member-states, not from the most powerful ones, because this would open the problem of balance and dominance among the stronger EU member-states. Greece perfectly fits the profile of a country that could support such an initiative,” Joksimović said.

She said that a potential problem is that there are countries that are against a further enlargement of the EU, even to include Iceland and Croatia, which are well on their way to becoming members.

“This initiative would call for this group of countries to appear before the door of the EU at the same time, and that would call for agreement within the group. I think that, for example, Croatia would not be thrilled by that,” she said.

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