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Montenegro

DJUKANOVIC SAID 05. 04. 2019.   >>  18:20 0

DJUKANOVIC SAID

European Union should enlarge in spite of the crisis

The pro-Western president of Montenegro, who has defied Russia to steer his country into NATO, has warned that the integration of the Western Balkans into the European Union is crucial for the bloc to protect itself from growing Russian and Chinese political and economic influence in the region, reports the Associated Press.

In an interview with the Associated Press Montenegrin president Milo Djukanovic said that Britain's chaotic divorce from the EU and other crises in the bloc have apparently diminished the union's enthusiasm to accept new members, but that Europe must not leave the strategic region to other global players.

Djukanovic said that Russia and China have legitimate interest in the Balkans, where Russian political influence has increased, especially in neighbouring Serbia. In the meantime, China has invested much in infrastructure in order to increase its power in central and eastern Europe.

“Therefore, the issue is not whether Russia, China or a third country have interests in the Balkans, the issue is why Europe would leave that region to anyone else. I think it’s primarily the Europe’s interest" said Djukanovic.

He noted that, if Balkan countries, whit the 90’s wars behind them and and which are still lagging in reforms needed to enter the EU, stay beyond the scope of the EU, the future of the Union itself would be jeopardized.

"The alternatives are in fact the destruction of Europe. What we see (in the Balkans) today is the destruction of Europe. I think Europe has to protect itself from that destruction and must clearly recognize its strategic interests," said Djukanovic.

After joining NATO in 2017, Montenegro is next in line for entering EU by 2025 which is the earliest possible joining date. Serbia could also join the EU by 2025, while Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo and Bosnia have not yet reached that level of pre-entry negotiations.

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