Official says Balkans must end bilateral disputes to join EU

April 27, 2018
European Council President Donald Tusk, speaks during a press conference after a meeting with Kosovo President Hashim Thaci during their meeting in Pristina, Kosovo, Thursday, April 26, 2018. Tusk is on a one day trip to meet with Kosovo officials as part of his weeklong tour of Western Balkans to prepare for the May 17 summit in of EU and regional leaders. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — European Council President Donald Tusk urged Western Balkan leaders Friday to solve festering bilateral issues and deliver a clear signal their countries are ready to join the European Union.

Speaking at a regional summit in Macedonia, Tusk focused on the independence dispute between Serbia and Kosovo, and the naming dispute between Macedonia and EU member Greece.

He said it is up to regional leaders to make “extra efforts” to overcome their disagreements, adding that the EU remains the most reliable partner for Western Balkan countries.

“Reconciliation in this part of Europe is important for the whole continent, for our stability, peace and prosperity,” Tusk said.

“It is possible that the history of the Balkans, a kind of a never ending horror movie can turn into an Oscar winning production with a happy end,” he added.

This week, Tusk visited Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia — all former Communist states and EU hopefuls.

Heads of state or government from all five countries, as well as EU members Croatia, Slovenia, and Bulgaria, attended the meetings in Skopje.