Instead of political games, we have to see a political will and true reforms, not on paper but in reality, especially in key areas such as the rule of law, competitiveness, and the connectivity. This is the message issued by the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn to the countries of western Balkans, including Macedonia which is emphasized in his speech at the Princeton University in the US, on the subject “Europe and the Crisis in its Neighborhood.” Hahn says that the work of the European Union in the Western Balkans is not over yet and it is of vital importance to keep a credible, firm EU accession perspective to the region as an anchor of strategic stability and reforms.
“At the same time, enlargement is not a free lunch. Only local leaders can do the job and deliver to their citizens. They must step up to the plate and build on the progress that has been made. We need to see political will instead of political games, and real reforms not on paper but on the ground – especially in the key areas of the rule of law, competitiveness, and connectivity. That may endanger the business model of some individuals – but strategically, there is no alternative. Their citizens know that”, said Hahn.
The European Commissioner stressed that if the EU becomes hesitant in the Balkans, someone else might take their place instead, adding that that someone is already trying to take their place.
“In that sense, EU enlargement, with all conditions and criteria, is the best security policy the EU has ever had – just imagine where Poland, the Baltics or others would be today if we hadn’t used the time-window of the 1990s”, said Hahn.
In his speech, Hahn talked about the crisis in Eastern Europe, Syria, and Turkey.
“I am afraid we are now reaching a point of no return with Ankara. There can be no more business as usual, in which we simply pretend to believe them about their commitment to join the EU, while events on the ground speak a different language, unfortunately”, said the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations.