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Foreign Minister Paet Encourages Western Balkan Countries to Continue Integrating With European Union

05.10.2012

At a seminar held in Tallinn today on the future of the Western Balkans, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet emphasised that the natural future of the Western Balkan countries is in the European Union and NATO. “The Western Balkans have historically been a part of Europe, and therefore we support the Euro-Atlantic integration of the countries in that region,” Paet added. The foreign minister stated that European Union enlargement will increase the union’s security, expand the internal market, and broaden the space for the free movement of people, goods, and services.

Paet stated that Estonia has consistently supported the accession of the Western Balkan countries to the European Union as well as NATO. “It is important for the Western Balkan countries to continue implementing reforms in order to join the EU. This is the quickest way to build up a society that respects rule of law and human rights and where a market economy and free trade function effectively. Estonia is prepared to share its reform experience with the Western Balkan states,” he added.

In recent years, Paet stated, there have been many positive developments in the Western Balkan states’ integration with the EU. “We hope that Croatia, which will soon become the 28th member of the European Union, will serve as a positive example for other countries to take further steps and continue with reforms. Serbia has also become a candidate country and accession negotiations are being held with Montenegro, and most of the Western Balkan countries already have a visa waiver with the European Union,” Paet added.

Paet added that it is also important to start EU accession negotiations with Macedonia as soon as possible.

The seminar “Regional and European Perspectives of the Western Balkans” was organised in co-operation by the Embassy of Austria in Tallinn, International Centre of Defence Studies, Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute. The seminar included discussions on the European Union perspective in the Western Balkans as well as the region’s security situation and economic opportunities.




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