Commissioner Hahn presents the Commission’s 2016 Enlargement Strategy and Country Reports this morning in the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee to the MEPs. Eduard Kukan (EPP/SK) made the following comments:
“I am looking forward to Commissioner Hahn’s presentation on progress reports on the EU integration process. It is clear that the process is on-going. It is also clear that the European project can be only finalised once the region of Western Balkans is fully integrated in the EU.
I am convinced that the enlargement process is strengthening the European Union. It gives us a chance to build a peaceful and more prosperous Europe. Therefore, we need continuous support in this process. We have to assist our partners in the region with their reforms and keep stimulating their progress.
The candidate and potential candidate countries need to do their part of the work as well. The integration process is a chance to establish well-functioning democratic countries and to stimulate social and economic growth. Thus, the working of democratic institutions, rule of law, judiciary or economic governance needs to remain in the centre of this process.
A number of countries in the region have made steps forward in the process, and I would like to support them in the EU accession momentum.
I am glad that negotiations with Serbia continue swiftly. Opening of the new chapters is a sign of strong engagement of the political class and the society. Serbia should continue its efforts, especially in the most crucial chapters 23 and 24. We should also see a progress in the dialogue with Kosovo, which will be the key for the whole process. I hope that Serbia will be ready soon for opening new chapters and closing those already negotiated.
I also welcome recommendations from the Commission to open the accession negotiations with Albania. It is a clear signal and realistic appreciation of the progress the country made over the last period. I am following very closely the reform efforts in the country and hope that reform of justice together with the five key priorities will be implemented swiftly in order to open a way to the accession negotiations.
The lasting political crisis in Macedonia has hampered the integration of the country; however, we need to appreciate the efforts done to move out of this situation. I hope that the upcoming elections will reconfirm the European course of the country and allow politicians to concentrate on reforms needed in order to move on in the integration process.
Lastly, I would like to mention that the EU integration process is supported by majority of the population in the region thus should be a part of joint efforts of all major political forces in particular countries. Both ruling parties and opposition has important role to play in the process. This applies to Kosovo, Montenegro, Albania and Macedonia.