Bulgarian leader backs Western Balkans nations joining EU

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SOFIA, Bulgaria — Addressing an EU enlargement summit Tuesday, Bulgaria's leader pledged his support for the Western Balkan countries on the path of being integrated into the European Union.

Bulgaria is one of the EU's 27 nations. Leaders of EU countries and of membership candidates Montenegro, Serbia, North Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia and Kosovo discussed their accession prospects at a so-called Berlin Process summit jointly chaired by Bulgaria and North Macedonia.

Two action plans were adopted at the summit — one a common regional market and the other a green agenda to unlock the renewable energy potential of the region while enhancing citizens’ health. The latter would follow the same direction as the EU’s Green Deal.

Both declarations, which aim to further align the Western Balkans with EU norms and standards, were signed online during the summit.

“Let’s not forget that the Western Balkans together represent a market of about 20 million people. This will give prospects to young people who are emigrating at a rapid pace and will seek an adequate response to the demographic crisis, regional co-operation and good neighbourly relations," Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said.

The Berlin Process, launched by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2014 to support the European integration of the Western Balkan countries, is focused on three main areas: economy and connectivity, reconciliation and good neighbourly relations, and security.

The next summit will be held next year in the German capital, Merkel told participants at the end of the forum.

The Associated Press