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Nemeth: European institutions must prepare to integrate Western Balkan countries

European institutions must invest heavily in making preparations to integrate countries of the Western Balkans, Zsolt Nemeth, the head of parliament's foreign affairs committee, said in Strasbourg on Tuesday.

Nemeth, who heads the Hungarian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), told Hungarian journalists that the autumn session of the assembly this week focuses on matters related to the Western Balkans.

Peter Szijjarto, the foreign minister whose role is also chairman of the Council’s Committee of Ministers, will take part in the relevant debate, he noted. Szijjarto is insistent on the swiftest possible European integration of Western Balkan countries so they can start properly catching up with the rest of Europe, he added.

Nemeth said “regrettably” it was the EU that had difficulties when it came to integrating the Western Balkans rather than the other way round.

The European Council, he said, would have a major role to play in helping the region catch up.

In early November, the CoE Political Committee will assess in depth the situation with regard to the Western Balkans with the representatives of the relevant countries in Budapest, he said.

Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey are in the process of EU accession talks, while Albania and North Macedonia are candidate countries, with a political agreement having been struck with the EU Council on European Affairs on how to start accession negotiations. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo are potential candidates.

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