"The European Union must honour its commitments to the countries of the Western Balkans. It is therefore an important and correct step to start accession negotiations with Northern Macedonia and Albania. After careful examination, the European Commission has established that these two countries meet the conditions for accession," says Othmar Karas, MEP, commenting on the recommendation of the European Commission to open accession talks with the two Western Balkan states.
"It is clear that the countries of the Western Balkans must consistently implement far-reaching reforms - especially in the areas of justice, fundamental rights, the protection of minorities, the fight against corruption and organised crime. And they must improve and normalise their neighbourly relations. The settlement of the name dispute between Northern Macedonia and Greece was a shining example of this," says Karas.
"But if they do, the European Union must breathe life into the accession prospects of these states. Only in this way can we permanently anchor European values and mutual friendship in the Western Balkans. If we fail to do so, the influence of Russia, China and elsewhere in our immediate neighbourhood threatens to gain a stronger foothold."
"We must export stability so that we do not import instability. This motto of EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn must continue to be the clear objective of the EU's policy towards South Eastern Europe," says Lukas Mandl, member of the European Parliament's Kosovo delegation.
"For the citizens of Kosovo, freedom to travel is an important step in this direction. Europe can thus show that we see the youngest state in Europe at eye level and reward active reforms. The strengthening of the European identity and the perspective of integration are important prerequisites for a good future in South Eastern Europe, for the entire Union and especially for Austria".
The preservation of peace in the region was a prerequisite for further dialogue and constitutional reforms. "Only if there is peace can the necessary reconciliation continue. In this sense, I hope that worrying developments such as the current ones around Mitrovica will soon be a thing of the past," concluded Mandl.