The extension of the EU by the Balkan States, called the Berlin Process, has been an important goal for Poland and is of key importance for the EU interests.
“A permanent dialogue and showing that the EU is interested in the [Balkan] region” is of the utmost importance, the Polish deputy FM Szymon Szynkowski said during a press conference in London.
“The prospects of each of these countries are different. Serbia and Montenegro have opened negotiations with the European Commission. As for Albania and Macedonia, they are countries that, we hope, will open negotiations in the coming year,” said the deputy FM.
Mr Szynkowski also called “making the opening of these negotiations possible during the Polish presidency [over the Berlin Process]” the Polish government’s “great political ambition,” adding that “it would be a great success.”
The deputy FM stressed that “if the EU won’t turn its gaze to Western Balkans... not only Russia but also China and other actors” might do so instead.
The purpose of Mr Szynkowski’s London visit was to meet with the UK’s Minister of State for Europe and the Americas Alan Duncan, and to discuss the Polish-UK collaboration within the Berlin Process, as well as the rights of Polish citizens in the UK and the future of Warsaw-London relations after Brexit.
During the Brussels summit at the end of June this year, EU leaders agreed to open membership talks with Macedonia and Albania by the end of 2019. Serbia and Montenegro are said to be the second tier, opening the talks as early as 2025.
Perhaps what makes Albania’s EU membership especially alluring to the EU is the Trans Adriatic Pipeline that will carry the Azerbaijani gas from Greece, across Albania, then go offshore and into Italy.
The next Berlin Process summit will take place in 2019 in the western Polish city of Wrocław.