We reaffirm our strong support for a credible perspective on the accession of the Western Balkan countries and their future in the EU. We firmly believe that EU enlargement is a mutually beneficial process for both the EU and the Western Balkans, and is a strategic investment in the security, stability and prosperity of Europe. This is stated in a joint statement by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria, the Republic of Croatia, the Hellenic Republic and Romania, the Foreign Ministry said.
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We are therefore convinced that the EU must remain firmly engaged in the Western Balkans region and that enlargement must remain the focus of the EU. We also believe that a credible prospect of EU membership is crucial for the development of democratic and prosperous societies in the Western Balkan countries. It is of paramount importance for the EU to ensure the overall progress of the region based on individual merit and the fulfillment of strict but fair conditions.
Before the General Affairs Council this October, we reaffirm our strong support for the opening of accession negotiations with Albania and the Republic of Northern Macedonia, subject to established conditions, in particular those for good neighborly relations, convinced that both the EU and partners from the Western Balkans, we must fulfill our commitments and ensure the credibility of EU enlargement policy.
The launch of the accession negotiations will allow these two countries to focus more on the reforms needed, while at the same time the EU will be able to closely monitor their progress in meeting established conditions and criteria, including the implementation of bilateral agreements that foster good neighborliness in the region such as the Friendship, Neighborhood and Cooperation Treaty between Bulgaria and the Republic of Northern Macedonia and the Prespa Agreement between Greece and the Republic of Northern Macedonia. This will certainly give impetus to reforms throughout the region. The launch of the negotiations would also be remarkable evidence of the progress made and will give an important impetus to the accession process of the two countries as a result of the strong support of the current European Commission in the enlargement process.
We are also convinced that enlargement policy will be a priority on the EU agenda within the mandate of the next European Commission, in order to accelerate progress over the next five years and provide a clear perspective on the future of the accession process.