There is no European security without a stable and integrated Western Balkans, according to Hungary’s EU commissioner. Olivér Várhelyi wants the EU to work very hard with the candidate countries.
“Maybe it is the only positive impact of Russia’s war in Ukraine that it managed to sober up the discussion around enlargement as well as the EU’s absorption capacity,” Olivér Várhelyi, Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement told Euractiv.
“Europe is not going to enjoy security, stability and prosperity without the Western Balkans being fully integrated,” he stressed.
According to Várhelyi, now there is a clear political will for enlargement, which was not always obvious. He mentioned that Europe lacks a proper political platform for engaging with candidate countries “but also its neighborhood, where Europe is able to speak with its allies and partners and exchange and engage in a much more intensive way.”
Speaking of Western Balkans countries, the commissioner stressed that “the whole enlargement process is merit-based, and now the race is on, whoever delivers first, should be eligible to join first”. “What is important is that if they deliver fast, we are ready to move fast as well, and since we are in charge now, finally, speed is going to be much, much different,” he explained. “Now we need to work very, very hard with the candidate countries so that they can speed up their preparations and their real integration,” Várhelyi added.
Referring to the country’s dependence on Russia, the commissioner said that Serbia is in a very difficult situation, “because of their vulnerability when it comes to energy supplies and because of the unsettled nature of their security framework”. “We want Serbia to be our ally, we need Serbia to show solidarity with us, and to be on our side, but we also need to understand their position when we ask something from them,” he added.
Featured photo via the European Council