Cyprus Mail

Cyprus favours speedier enlargement of EU in Western Balkans

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Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides

Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides underlined the need to speed up the enlargement process in order to avert the Western Balkans becoming vulnerable to the influence of third countries such as Russia, China and Turkey.

He was speaking during a discussion with the Foreign Ministers of the countries concerned, in the framework of the Foreign Affairs Council held in Brussels on Monday.

In particular, according to a Foreign Ministry statement, Kasoulides stressed that the political instability caused by the crisis in Ukraine, combined with the growing influence of third countries in the Western Balkans, should cause particular concern.

The EU, he said, “must accelerate the enlargement process and support our partners in the Western Balkans in order to preserve its own credibility and avoid making the region more vulnerable to the influence of third countries such as Russia, China and Turkey,” according to the Foreign Ministry statement.

The Foreign Ministers of the EU exchanged views on the Western Balkans and examined ways to strengthen EU political engagement in individual sectors. They also took part in a working lunch with their counterparts from Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania.

They also reviewed the latest developments in Ukraine in the light of the ongoing Russian invasion in the presence of the Foreign Ministers of Ukraine and Canada.

Prior to the beginning of the FAC, the EU’s Foreign Ministers participated in an EU – Canada ministerial meeting in the presence of Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly.

During the EU – Canada ministerial meeting, Kasoulides said that the reshaping of the security architecture in Europe is of vital importance and that Cyprus supports the strengthening of EU – NATO cooperation in a way that is mutually beneficial, based on the principles of reciprocity and autonomy of decision-making.

Referring to cooperation with Canada, the Cypriot Foreign Minister referred to Canada’s long-standing contribution to civilian and military missions in the framework of the European Union’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and Canada’s participation in the military mobility programme in the framework of the EU’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO).

Also, in the context of the discussion of current affairs, Greece provided an update on Turkish violations of Greek airspace, with Cyprus supporting Greece’s positions, according to the statement.

On the sidelines of the Foreign Affairs Council, Kasoulides also held a bilateral meeting with Serbian Foreign Minister, Nikola Selakovic.

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