- Title: EU tells Balkans to quit "playing with fire" and work together
- Date: 16th March 2017
- Summary: SARAJEVO, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA (MARCH 16, 2017) (REUTERS) ****WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** BOSNIAN PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY BUILDING SERBIAN PRIME MINISTER ALEKSANDAR VUCIC GREETED BY HIS BOSNIAN COUNTERPART DENIS ZVIZDIC ZVIZDIC AND VUCIC SHAKING HANDS MONTENEGRIN PRIME MINISTER DUSKO MARKOVIC ARRIVING ALBANIAN PRIME MINISTER EDI RAMA SHAKING HANDS WITH DENIS ZVIZIDIC KOSOVO PRIME MINISTER ISA MUSTAFI ARRIVING MACEDONIAN PRIME MINISTER EMIL DIMITRIEV ARRIVING VARIOUS OF FAMILY PHOTO OF SIX BALKAN PRIME MINISTERS AND EU ENLARGEMENT COMMISSIONER JOHANNES HAHN VARIOUS OF PRIME MINISTERS AND EU COMMISSIONER PREPARING FOR TALKS (SOUNDBITE) (English) EU ENLARGEMENT COMMISSIONER JOHANNES HAHN, SAYING: "We now have one of those windows of the opportunities where honestly, either the region as the whole picks up this momentum and we generate generally positive narrative, or we end up in a really awkward spot with the stream of bad news slamming the window firmly shut, and this is honestly playing with fire." VARIOUS OF PRIME MINISTERS LEAVING VARIOUS OF POLICE IN FRONT OF BUILDING BOSNIAN NATIONAL FLAGS BOSNIAN PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY BUILDING WHERE MEETING WAS HELD
- Embargoed: 30th March 2017 19:26
- Location: SARAJEVO, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
- City: SARAJEVO, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
- Country: Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Topics: European Union,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA001687LZY1
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The European Union told Balkan leaders on Thursday (March 16) to quit "playing with fire" and set aside their political quarrels in order to take advantage of what was described as the bloc's renewed concern for the region.
EU commissioner Johannes Hahn was speaking at a summit of six Balkan countries that want to join the EU but whose concerns are growing with the resistance from some EU states to taking in any new members from ex-communist Eastern Europe.
The prospect of EU membership has for years been the main driver of reform in the Balkans after a decade of war and upheaval in the 1990s.
But with Britain's vote to leave the bloc, the rise of right-wing populism and debate over the future shape of the EU, expansion has been placed firmly on the backburner.
Analysts and diplomats say this has severely diminished the EU's leverage in the Balkans, an overwhelmingly poor region troubled by ethnic tensions, endemic corruption and a worrying drift towards authoritarianism. The West says Russia is taking advantage, forging alliances and exacerbating tensions.
After an EU summit last week at which the bloc reiterated its commitment to the region's "European perspective", Hahn met the prime ministers of Albania, Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Serbia in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.
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