Spanish Prime Minister visits Western Balkan states to show support for EU membership

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez visited Skopje on the final leg of his tour of five Western Balkan countries: Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania.

His trip is intended to encourage nations to continue their efforts to become EU member states. To this end, I congratulated the Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Dimitar Kovačevski, for the recent unblocking of negotiations on this process after EU member Bulgaria lifted its veto.

In a press conference during his visit, Sánchez voiced his support saying: “You did the right thing, you unlocked the road that will undoubtedly lead North Macedonia to its place, namely the European Union. North Macedonia is European both geographically and historically. And now you are one step closer to your long-awaited goal.”

Earlier on Sunday in Montenegro, Sánchez also assured President Milo Djukanovic that the country “has everything” to become “an excellent example” of European integration in the Western Balkans.

In Bosnia, Sarajevo’s European aspirations were also supported by the Spanish Prime Minister. He called on its leaders to reduce internal tensions, engage in dialogue and move forward together on the reforms needed to become a member.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is the country furthest behind in applying for EU membership, having not yet obtained candidate status.

The Balkan countries are all at different stages of the EU accession process. However, EU officials have recently sought to encourage governments to press ahead with reforms amid concerns over Russia’s efforts to boost its influence in the region.

Sánchez will wrap up his Western Balkan tour in Albania on Monday. Kosovo was excluded from his trip because Spain does not recognize its independence from Serbia.