Washington, 29 July 2020 (MIA) – The United States and the European Union are closely coordinating and working on integrating the region into the bloc and also on enabling the Western Balkan countries to integrate through the so called ‘mini-Schengen’ initiative said Matthew Palmer, US Department of State’s special envoy for the Western Balkans.
Speaking at a virtual summit of six Western Balkans leaders, hosted by the Atlantic Council – an international affairs think tank based in Washington – Palmer said the countries from the region have been pursuing reforms necessary to be allowed to join the EU.
He said the US and the EU cooperated closely, providing several examples and noting that efforts had been made for North Macedonia and Albania to deliver much needed reforms to convince the European Council to open accession talks with the two countries.
The US diplomat pinpointed the June 5 agreement on election reforms in Albania, saying it was the result of US-EU partnership, and the agreement on first municipal elections in the Bosnian city of Mostar after many years.
The EU and the United States are working on a dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia to normalize their relations with the assistance of Miroslav Lajcak, the EU special envoy for the Pristina-Belgrade dialogue.
According to Palmer, the countries have transatlantic future. Washington, he said, encourages them to start having closer cooperation to address economic and social challenges as well as COVID challenges.
Mentioning the ‘Green Corridors’ project on free flow of goods in the Western Balkans, he said it could be expanded in the future to involve Croatia, Hungary and Greece.
Asked about the US stance on Russian and Chinese investments in the region, Palmer said Washington wasn’t against investments if they weren’t based on corrupt practices and if they didn’t break any laws.