It is time to be bold about EU enlargement

by Cristian Florescu

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Austria, Alexander Schallenberg, the geopolitical importance of EU enlargement to the Western Balkans, Ukraine, and Moldova during an interview for Politico’s podcast “EU Confidential”. He suggested moving away from binary thinking and gradually welcoming candidate countries into specific policy areas and institutions.

The podcast was recorded during the annual European Forum Alpbach and released on Friday. During the interview, Schallenberg emphasised that the geopolitical litmus test of the European Union is its neighbourhood.

“Are we capable, as the European Union, to export stability, or do we want a risk of importing instability and insecurity? And I am not talking only about Ukraine and Moldova. Vienna is at the very centre of this continent, and our geopolitical seismograph kicks off not only because of the east. Five hundred kilometers south of Vienna we have the Western Balkans. The region that is not the backyard of Europe, it is the courtyard of Europe. And it is our prime task to secure this region as well”, the Minister said.

He said he believed it is now time to be bold and to change the EU’s approach to enlargement and get each of the six Western Balkan countries Ukraine and Moldova clearly into the EU family.

Schallenberg reminded that twenty years ago Western Balkans were promised in Thessaloniki that they would become full members of the EU.

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