EU, Balkans leaders to reaffirm ties amid virus crisis
AP

EU, Balkans leaders to reaffirm ties amid virus crisis

  • 0

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union and Balkans leaders are holding talks later Wednesday aimed at reassuring six countries in the volatile region that the EU remains their most important partner, particularly as the coronavirus ravages world economies.

Amid delays over the start of EU membership talks for Albania and North Macedonia, lingering tensions between Serbia and its former territory of Kosovo, and a perception that the EU was slow to help its Balkans partners cope with the virus, concern has mounted that Russia and China might take advantage.

The summit, starting at around 1430 GMT (10:30 a.m. EDT), had been billed as a highly symbolic event to be held in Croatia, which became an EU-Balkans success story when it joined the bloc in 2013. The country currently holds the bloc’s rotating presidency until June 30. Now, the summit will be held by video conference.

The talks will include leaders from countries called the “Balkan six:” Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.

With the coronavirus the focus of concern, any official talks about EU enlargement are now off the table. Instead, the EU will want to herald a “new phase of close cooperation” in light of the coronavirus, according to an organizational note released in Brussels.

An EU economic support package planned before the crisis is gone too, but European leaders will want to focus on 3.3 billion euros ($3.6 billion) in emergency coronavirus funding that it previously granted the six as it looks to burnish its credentials as a far more worthy partner to the region than Russia.

The Balkans six will be invited to affirm their European ambitions and recommit to democratic, political and economic reforms.

In a written statement to The Associated Press, North Macedonia’s Prime minister Oliver Spasovski acknowledged that that the coronavirus has raised “unforeseen challenges” for all.

“But it also brought something positive - it clearly showed that the European continent has a common destiny. The way we are dealing with the epidemic has shown that we share the same administrative, culture and other practices,” he wrote.

———

Konstantin Testorides in Skopje, North Macedonia, contributed to this report.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Concerned about COVID-19?

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

  • Updated

A boy has a close encounter with nature, a world leader keeps her cool during an earthquake, and astronomers make a dazzling discovery. These are the must-watch videos of the week.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — As South Korea grapples with a new spike in coronavirus infections thought to be linked to nightspots in Seoul, including several popular with gay men, it's also seeing rising homophobia that's making it difficult for sexual minorities to come forward for diagnostic tests.

  • Updated

A boy has a close encounter with nature, a world leader keeps her cool during an earthquake, and astronomers make a dazzling discovery. These are the must-watch videos of the week.

  • Updated

OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Large cruise ships will continue to be prohibited from operating in Canadian waters until at least Oct. 31 because of the coronavirus pandemic, the country's transport minister announced Friday.

  • Updated

WASHINGTON (AP) — With new U.S. economic numbers highlighting the rough road ahead for a hoped-for rebound, President Donald Trump on Friday took aim at the World Health Organization and China, blaming both for their roles in the pandemic's devastation.

  • Updated

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The massive protests sweeping across U.S. cities following the police killing of a black man in Minnesota have sent shudders through the health community and elevated fears that the huge crowds will lead to a new surge in cases of the coronavirus.

  • Updated

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cyprus is launching a multilingual SMS campaign to head off more migrant arrivals by dispelling the mistaken belief the European Union member country is a gateway to the continent, the Cypriot interior minister said Sunday

  • Updated

When China announced a 6.6% increase in its military budget last week while cutting substantially in other areas, analysts said it made one thing clear: Beijing senses an increasing security threat and is giving the People's Liberation Army the military muscle to deal with it.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

News Alerts

Breaking News