The European Union should further promote its influence in Western Balkan countries, otherwise regional states would turn to Russia or Turkey, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday.
“Given the history of the region, given the existing pressures, these [Western Balkans] countries could have recourse to Russia or Turkey and that would be a wrong solution for both the region and Europe. That is why we need to continue working on our sovereignty, keeping the Western Balkans within the European Union,” Macron said of the outcome of the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Sofia, Bulgaria.
The European Union could not increase its influence in the Balkan region unless there is “coherence or unity” within the bloc, noted the French president.
The Western Balkans region includes Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), as well as the self-proclaimed and illegitimate “Republic of Kosovo”.
In February, the European Commission released its strategy for the Western Balkan countries, entitled “A credible perspective on increasing and strengthening EU involvement with the Western Balkans”. The new strategy provides for the possibility of EU membership of some candidates by 2025.
Of the Balkan countries, Albania, FYROM, Serbia and Montenegro are candidates for EU membership. Negotiations have been under way with Serbia since 2014 and Montenegro since 2012. Bosnia and Herzegovina has been waiting for candidate status since February 2016.
Despite Macron’s neo-Colonial agenda against the Western Balkans, and his efforts to counter Russian influence in the region, both states collaborate to preserve the Iranian nuclear deal.
The Russian president’s press office said back in April that “the presidents of Russia and France have expressed their support for the preservation of the plan and its rigorous implementation, and other current issues on the international and bilateral agenda have been discussed.”
The strong controversy over the Iranian nuclear deal began in October 2017 after US President Donald Trump refused to re-certify Iran’s compliance with the document. During his election campaign he repeatedly criticized Iran for alleged non-compliance with the agreement, threatening to abandon it. He eventually abandoned it days ago.
Serbs have historically valued France’s alliance in WWI. There still stands a statue near one of the entrance gates at Belgrade’s Kalemegdan Fortess commemorating France’s assistance to Serbia in the Great War. Since France’s support for the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999, the statue has often found itself the subject of vandalism and other ‘artistic’ forms of protest.