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Western Balkans have place in EU: Juncker
Last Updated: 2018-03-02 15:45 | Xinhua
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The Western Balkans have a place in the European Union (EU) and their countries' accession to the EU is feasible, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said here Thursday.

Juncker, who in the past few days visited countries in the region, said he would return to Brussels even more convinced that the Western Balkans belonged in the EU.

Their accession to the EU is not a dream "but something that can be realized," Juncker said at a press conference after an official lunch with the leaders of the Western Balkan countries hosted by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.

The EU was strongly committed to the European prospects of its Western Balkan partners and the same commitment was true of the Western Balkan countries, Juncker said.

"They are willing to undertake reforms that are needed to join the EU," he said.

However, according to him, it is clear that those who want to join the EU must meet all the criteria and conditions.

At this stage, none of the countries have met all the conditions, such as effectively combating organized crime and corruption. Nonetheless, there has been tremendous progress, Juncker said.

Borissov in turn said Bulgaria and the countries of the Western Balkans relied heavily on funding from the European Commission to build infrastructure and improve the connectivity of the region.

What the area was attempting to do under the aegis of the EU was achieve peace and stability in the region, Borissov said.

Providing a tangible European perspective for the Western Balkans is one of Bulgaria's priorities during the country's six-month rotating presidency of the Council of the EU.

The Western Balkans includes Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

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