Commissioner Hahn presented the Commission’s 2015 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 would like to congratulate the Commission on finalizing the progress reports and giving a good overview on where we stand in the integration process. It has been a demanding year for both the EU and the Western Balkans countries, in which we have been facing numerous historical challenges. Yet, it is clear the EU can become stronger in overcoming them only together with the Western Balkans.
The integration process needs to be revitalized and the agenda has to regain its central place in the EU policies. The EU should provide the region with clear support and guidance. At the same time, the candidate and potential candidate countries need to remain focused on reforms and deliver on them. Only a process build on credible and transparent rules will become a success for the region and the EU.
I welcome the progress made by countries of the region during this very demanding period.
Serbia kept good track of the reforms and is ready to open first negotiating chapters before the end of this year. I fully support it and encourage the Council to go ahead with the negotiations.
Albania also needs recognition for its efforts on the reform agenda, especially on close alignment with the EU foreign and security policy. Continuing this course, including promoting a sustainable political dialogue, should be encouraged.
It is clear, however, that more attention needs to be paid to most substantial parts of the integration process. This includes the functioning of democratic institutions, rule of law, civil liberties and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of press and independent journalism. These are all essential parts of the integration process and they need to get right.
Last year showed that the countries need to avoid vicious circles of political crises. These hamper integration process and the further democratic development of the countries. Countries can only succeed in a democratic and politically healthy environment, and thus make substantial progress towards the EU.“