Short-sighted policies stall Balkans’ integration into EU – Erdogan

MOUNT JAHORINA, Bosnia (Reuters) – Short-sighted anti-immigrant populism in some European Union member states has blocked the integration of Western Balkan countries into the EU, weakening the region’s stability, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pays his respects at a convoy carrying remains of the Srebrenica genocide victims, in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 9, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

He was speaking at a 12-nation Balkans summit where leaders voiced deep disappointment with the EU’s lack of follow-through on promises to open membership talks with North Macedonia and Albania, opposed by northern EU countries.

In June, EU governments unexpectedly put off a decision to start the talks with the two and cast doubt on the bloc’s existing strategy to counter a growing Russian and Chinese presence in the Balkans.

Erdogan and other speakers at the Balkans gathering held near the Bosnian capital Sarajevo criticised the EU over its reluctance to pursue further enlargement of the bloc.

“Recently we have seen that some short-sighted populist circles have blocked EU enlargement policy. Negative trends toward division and discrimination have spread across the continent and endanger not only internal peace within the EU but…hope and potential of the (Balkans) region.”

The EU’s appetite for further enlargement has been eroded by anti-immigration sentiment among voters and by increased criticism of the 28-nation bloc’s already complex and lumbering decision-making processes.

France and the Netherlands, with support from Denmark, also may seek further conditions such as more reform to tackle corruption and organised crime in Albania and Macedonia.

Turkey’s own bid for EU membership, launched back in 2004, has been stalled for years, with EU officials citing Ankara’s disregard for human rights and civil liberties under Erdogan. Some EU leaders want the talks to be scrapped. Erdogan has blamed alleged prejudice against Muslims for the impasse.

Montenegro President Milo Djukanovic called on other Western Balkan leaders to come up with a clear, common approach regarding expectations for relations with the EU.

“We are concerned about enlargement policy being slowed down and being made vague,” Djukanovic said, adding that other countries of the region had also received discouraging signals regarding the EU accession process.

He said the EU had failed to abolish visa requirements for Kosovo citizens or approve the opening of the last chapter in Montenegro’s accession process, while postponing the approval of Bosnia’s candidate status for later this year.

“I believe the issue of a real enlargement perspective will have to be opened very soon – whether we, the countries of the Western Balkans and the EU, are privileged partners or we are going back to the position of neighbours who (merely) share concern about the future of our common continent,” he said.

Western Balkans states that comprised the former Yugoslavia were wracked by ethnic war in the 1990s, and tensions linger.

Erdogan also paid respect to victims of the 1995 genocide in Srebrenica, laying flowers on trucks bearing the coffins of 33 among the 8,000 Muslim men and boys massacred by Bosnian Serb forces. The remains, which were exhumed from mass graves, will be reburied in a ceremony on July 11, the massacre anniversary.

Additional reporting by Maja Zuvela in Sarajevo; Editing by Mark Heinrich


more recommended stories

  • ‘Artificial snow’ could save stricken Antarctic ice sheet – study

    LONDON (Reuters) – Governments could stop.

  • Mexican drug lord ‘El Chapo’ to spend life behind bars – U.S. judge

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Joaquin “El.

  • WHO reports new Ebola incident in Uganda

    GENEVA (Reuters) – A fishmonger vomited.

  • Taiwan issues warnings for year’s first typhoon as thousands evacuated

    TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan moved thousands.

  • Germany’s Von der Leyen secures powerful EU executive top job

    STRASBOURG (Reuters) – Germany’s Ursula von.

  • Apollo 11 astronaut returns to launch pad where first humans lifted off for the moon

    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) – Apollo.

  • Von der Leyen secures powerful EU executive top job

    STRASBOURG (Reuters) – Germany’s Ursula von.

  • Spanish judge blocks Madrid council bid to lift car ban

    FILE PHOTO: A police traffic officer.

  • ‘More than 30’ feared trapped in Mumbai building collapse

    MUMBAI (Reuters) – An old four-storey.

  • Democratic presidential hopefuls spend heavily on digital ads, staff

    WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – The crowded.

  • Undersea quake south of Indonesia’s Bali causes brief panic

    JAKARTA (Reuters) – An undersea earthquake.

  • House Intelligence chief presses social media companies on deepfake policies

    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – U.S. House.

  • Nuclear deal parties not ready to launch dispute mechanism against Iran, prefer more diplomacy – EU

    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The remaining parties.

  • North Macedonia expects NATO membership, EU talks date by year-end

    LJUBLJANA (Reuters) – North Macedonia expects.

  • U.S. judge to hear financier Jeffrey Epstein’s bid to get out of jail before trial

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Jeffrey Epstein,.

  • U.S. military identifies soldier killed in Afghanistan

    (Reuters) – A U.S. Army soldier.

  • Clashes break out as Hong Kong protesters escalate fight in suburbs

    HONG KONG (Reuters) – Tens of.

  • First Ebola case in Congo city of Goma detected

    GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters).

  • Blackout disrupts Manhattan, darkens Broadway theatres

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – A wide.

  • Quake causes panic in eastern Indonesia; no reports of major damage

    JAKARTA (Reuters) – A magnitude 7.3.

  • Quake with 7.3 magnitude strikes in eastern Indonesia – USGS

    JAKARTA (Reuters) – An earthquake with.

  • Bangladesh’s Ershad, opposition leader and former army ruler, dies at 90

    FILE PHOTO: Bangladesh’s former army ruler.

  • Blackout plunges parts of Manhattan into darkness

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – A blackout.

  • Taiwanese president travels to Haiti to bolster relations in the region

    Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen and Haiti’s.

  • Car bomb and all-night hotel siege kill 26 in Somalia’s Kismayo

    MOGADISHU/GAROWE, Somalia (Reuters) – Islamist gunmen.

  • Hong Kong protesters, police clash as demonstrations target Chinese traders

    HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong.

  • New Orleans residents huddle at home, and in bars, ahead of hurricane

    NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) – Tropical Storm.

  • Somalia security forces end militant attack on hotel that killed 13 – police officer

    MOGADISHU (Reuters) – Somalia’s security forces.

  • Pence views overcrowded, bad-smelling facility for detained migrants in Texas

    MCALLEN, Tex. (Reuters) – Vice President.

  • Trump’s Labour Secretary Acosta resigns amid Epstein case

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Labour Secretary.

  • Nationwide wave of immigrant arrests to commence this weekend, Trump says

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A nationwide wave.

  • Russia delivers missile system to Turkey in challenge to NATO

    ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Russia began delivery.