The president of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, has stated his support for the inclusion of the Western Balkans in the EU, describing EU enlargement as "a positive project for peace and prosperity," adding that the pace at which the region would join the EU hinged on how quickly the criteria for accession was met.
"Enlargement can produce enormous benefits not just for the region, but Europe at large as well, and help secure a stable, prosperous and peaceful continent," the EU speaker told Germany's Funke Mediengrupp media group which publishes a number of newspapers.
The Deutsche Welle (DW) quoted Sassoli as saying on June 6 that the pace of accession depended on meeting the accession criteria. "In each of these states reforms have yet to be completed," Sassoli said, adding that the Union, on the other hand, needed to keep its promise and recognize their progress.
The EU has opened accession negotiations with Montenegro and Serbia. Albania and North Macedonia have been granted the status of candidates, while Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo are still waiting to become candidates, the DW said, adding that the EU was often reminded of its promise to the Western Balkans at a conference in Thessaloniki in 2003, and that it would not be complete without the Balkans.