Western Balkans in EU? Not before 2019 - Juncker

The conditions for Western Balkan countries to join the EU membership will not be met before the end of the mandate of the current European Commission (EC).

Source: Beta
(Tanjug/AP, file)
(Tanjug/AP, file)

EC President Jean-Claude Juncker said this on Wednesday, during his "state of the union" address at the European Parliament.

Beta is reporting that Juncker "stressed the EU will have more than 27 member states in the coming years."

But, he said, "the conditions for the entry of a new member from the Western Balkans into the EU will not be fulfilled before the end of the mandate of the current European Commission" - in 2019.

"And each time for each new member state, the rule of law will have to be fully established and the fundamental values ​​of the EU respected," Junkcer pointed out, adding that this was "an absolute priority."

He made it clear that "this excludes Turkey's entry into the EU for the time being."

As he explained, Turkey "has been moving away from the EU for some time in giant leaps."

"Journalists there must have freedom of speech, journalists must not be imprisoned," Juncker warned.

The head of the European Commission said that he urges those responsible in Turkey to "free our and not only our journalists" and to "stop insulting our countries and their leaders by calling them fascists and Nazis."

"Europe is a continent of mature democracy, but those who are intentionally insulting are burning bridges, while in Turkey, those who do it want to burn bridges to then blame the European Union for the failure of membership negotiations," Juncker said.

"We, for our part, continue to offer our hand to the great Turkish people and to all those who, based on our values, want to work with us," he said.

During his wide-ranging annual speech, Juncker said that the EU has "regained confidence in the past years."

"The wind is back in Europe's sails. Now we have a window of opportunity, but it will not stay open forever. Let us make the most of the moment: catch the wind in our sails," he said.

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