Juncker on his visit to Western Balkans: What struck me the most was conviction in EU, this gave me renewed sense of belief and hope

Photo: EPA/PATRICK SEEGER

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President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker stated on Tuesday in Strasbourg at the European Parliament plenary session that the Western Balkan countries see much more in the EU than its own member states. “I want to see the same belief in our Union across all 27 member states", he added.

Juncker spoke about his recent visit to the region of the Western Balkans and said that each of the partners in the region will have to continue their own reform path, especially when it comes to the rule of law and fundamental freedoms and values.

"What struck me the most was the passion and conviction in the European Union. This gave me a renewed sense of belief and hope: that if a region, a dramatic region like the Western Balkans is so determined to reform from top to bottom in order to join our Union, then we must be a Union worth being part of", Juncker stressed.

EC President stressed that there was a great deal work to be done and that all bilateral conflicts must be resolved. Also, he added, more unity is needed.

"As I said to all leaders in the region, there will be no fast-tracking. We will put substance over speed. Each case will be taken on its own merits with no fixed dates or firm deadlines", Juncker said.

He emphasized that he returned from this trip more convinced than ever that "this is our shared future, it is about reconciling our history and geography".

"But it is also a reason more to focus on building a stronger, more democratic and united Union. This is what the March European Council is about", EC President concluded.