Spanish PM visits Western Balkan states to show support for EU membership

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The Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, has visited Skopje in the latest part of his tour of five Western Balkan countries: Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania.

His trip is intended to encourage the nations to continue with their push to become EU member states. To that end, he congratulated North Macedonia's Prime Minister, Dimitar Kovačevski, for negotiations on this process having recently been unlocked after EU member Bulgaria lifted its veto.

In a press conference during his visit, Sánchez expressed his support, saying "You have done the right thing, you have unblocked the road that will undoubtedly lead North Macedonia to where it belongs, which is the European Union. North Macedonia is European both geographically and historically. And now you are one step closer to your longed-for goal."

Earlier on Sunday in Montenegro, Sánchez also assured President Milo Djukanovic that the country "has everything" to become "a great example" for EU integration in the Western Balkans.

In Bosnia, Sarajevo's EU aspirations were also backed by the Spanish PM. He called on its leaders to reduce internal tensions, engage in dialogue and move forward together on the reforms needed to become a member.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is the country furthest behind on its EU membership bid, having not yet achieved candidate status.

The Balkan nations are all in different stages of the EU accession process. However, EU officials have recently sought to encourage governments there to move on with reforms amid concerns over Russia's efforts to boost its influence in the region.

Sánchez will conclude his tour of the Western Balkans in Albania on Monday. Kosovo was excluded from his trip as Spain does not recognise its independence from Serbia.

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