French President Emmanuel Macron said in Munich, on Feb. 16, that membership negotiations should not be the European Union's only policy towards the Balkans, and that it was not necessarily the best way to strengthen European influence in the region either.
In a debate at the Munich Security Conference, President Macron said that Serbia had been negotiating accession to the EU for five years, but the investment that's visible in Serbia was not European, but rather Chinese and Russian, the Serbian Broadcasting Corporation (RTS) has quoted the French president as saying.
"Take Serbia, for example. President Aleksandar Vucic is great at his job, and I have plenty of respect for him, as he has demonstrated leadership at home. On the other hand, investment you can see there is not European, but rather Russian and Chinese. It's nice to open negotiating chapters, but it won't change lives," Macron said.
The president also said that he supported the strategic goal of forming firm ties between the Western Balkans and Europe, but also wondered if opening accession negotiations was the best way to achieve it.
"Instead of larger-scale investments, we are witnessing the hypocritical opening of new chapters, as all those who want negotiations to be opened with North Macedonia and Albania also say that the two states do not stand any chance of joining the EU in the next 10 or 15 years. It's not a reasonable policy, it's collective hypocrisy," Macron said.