In an interview with Merita Haklaj on A2CNN, Oliver Varhelyi, the European Union’s Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, discussed the EU’s policies, particularly in our region.
When asked if the war in Ukraine has acted as a powerful wake-up call for the EU to pay attention to our region, Varhelyi stated that there is a strong political will to bring the Western Balkans into the European Union as soon as possible.
The conflict in Ukraine appears to have served as a powerful wake-up call for the EU to focus on our region. After many years, negotiations were initiated with Albania and North Macedonia, and Serbia and Kosovo are under a great deal of pressure to normalize their relations. Does this indicate that EU policies are frequently geopolitical and geostrategic, and based on what is advantageous to the European Union in various conditions as opposed to what our region does?
This shows not only sincerity, but also a strong political resolve to bring the Western Balkans into the European Union as soon as possible. However, this does not imply that there would be any compromises or shortcuts regarding the membership requirements. If I had to translate this from the standpoint of Tirana, I would say that the sooner Tirana achieves results, the sooner it can become a member state, because from our perspective, as you mentioned, this was a clear call to action, even for those who have been wary of further expansion. Without future expansion, the security, peace, and stability of the entire continent are clearly impossible. In order to create long-term security, peace, and stability for itself, the European Union has a very egotistical interest in the rapid accession of the Western Balkans to the European Union.
So you are saying that EU member states should trust the European Commission’s reports more and not be skeptical in certain cases?
Sure, certainly. The Commission exists to provide an objective assessment of the level of preparation. But the European Commission is also there to suggest strategic solutions when the conditions are right, as we did with Bosnia and Herzegovina’s candidate nation status last year. I believe there will be even more strategic solutions this year.
Oliver Varhelyi is the Neighborhood and Enlargement Commissioner for the European Union.