France must focus on the Western Balkans which have become “a diplomatic dead end”, French European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau said, the Belgrade-based Beta news agency reported.
She told the French daily newspaper La Croix that the European Union has not engaged itself sufficiently in reinforcing the peace in the reigon.
“Things can either go in a good direction or in a bad one” but there can be no status quo, she said.
Loiseau warned that EU member states do not share view on membership for the countries of the Western Balkans, adding that despite differing views all 27-member states agree that more aid has to be secured for the countries of that region.
Beta said that officials close to EU High Representative Federica Mogherini said there is no doubt that all EU members support the clear prospect of membership for Western Balkan countries which meet the necessary conditions, especially the rule of law, independence of the judiciary, fight against corruption, freedom of the media and the resolving of bilateral disputes such as the Kosovo issue in Serbia’s case.
They said that Loiseau was only repeating French President Emmanuel Macron’s view that the EU won’t be able to accept new members until it resolves its internal crisis and the consequences of Brexit.
The French minister told La Croix that the two sides should not be left to fend for themselves but that other countries should not be deciding the conditions to resolve the dispute.
“Leaving Kosovo as an open wound is not a solution and the Balkan countries should be the ones to resolve their disputes,” she said, adding that the dispute over Kosovo should not overshadow necessary progress in rule of law.
Loiseau confirmed that France and Serbia had signed an agreement to open offices of the French Development Agency in Belgrade but only after Serbia is taken off the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) list of countries with a high risk of money laundering.