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Babiš: EU should give Balkan countries their EU accession date

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Sofia, May 17 (CTK special correspondent) – The Czech Republic and other Visegrad Four (V4) countries are critical of Brussels not giving a time schedule for the Balkan countries’ EU accession, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis told reporters at the summit of the European Union and the Western Balkans on Thursday.

The V4 is also comprised of Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

Babis (ANO) added that the EU accession of the whole Balkan region is the path to enlarge the Schengen Area to cover the whole Europe, which would make its border protection more efficient.

“We criticise the fact that their is actually no deadline set,” Babis said about the Balkan countries’ possible EU entry.

“The (Western Balkan) region has its problems. But the countries must tackle their conflicts, definitely say that their borders are valid, efficiently combat organised crime and corruption and implement reforms,” he said, adding that the EU should set its time plan for the Balkan countries joining the Union.

Six Balkan countries, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, are seeking their EU membership. Out of them, Serbia and Montenegro have achieved the biggest progress.

The EU has mentioned 2025 as a quite bold, but realistic deadline of their EU accession. However, the other Balkan countries do not know the schedule of their joining the Union.

The EU membership of all Balkan countries is in the interest of the whole Europe, Babis said.

“I suppose that this is to primarily lead to the Schengen Area covering the whole Europe to enable us to defend Europe’s safety along our natural continental borders. This should be the goal,” Babis pointed out.

In connection with the V4, Babis spoke about the stance on migration, too.

“The V4 plans a meeting with British Prime Minister [Theresa May] in June,” Babis said, adding that the group also invited German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss the migration issue.

According to CTK sources, May may attend a meeting in Bratislava in the second half of June, while Merkel and Macron may take part in a V4 meeting in the autumn. Besides, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is likely to meet the V4 countries’ representatives on June 21.

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