Balkan leaders from ten countries meet in Romania to discuss regional cooperation and EU enlargement.

Leaders from 10 countries of Southeast Europe met in Bucharest to discuss the future enlargement of the European Union and ways to promote security and economic growth in the region.

The leaders of countries that are part of the Cooperation Process in Southeastern Europe are committed yesterday in the Romanian capital to cooperate with European Union initiatives such as creating a free trade pact and an integrated energy market in region.

“The stability and regional prosperity can not be achieved without regional solidarity,” said Romanian President Traian Basescu, and found that the stability and security in the Balkans can only be achieved if all countries join the EU region and NATO.

Greece is the only state in the region that belongs to the European Union, while Romania and Bulgaria join the European community in 2007, as planned. For its part, Croatia, Serbia-Montenegro, Albania and Turkey for entry into the block, and Moldova also intends to approach the West. Moreover, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey are NATO members.

Basescu asked the European Union and Balkan countries are “a European solution to the Kosovo crisis” and greater Western involvement in the resolution of the separatist crisis in Moldova.

Also, the Romanian president called for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the separatist province of Trans-Dniester in Moldova, as well as improving border security in the region with Ukraine. At present, Russia has 1,800 troops in the province, and has refused to retreat on several occasions. According to Basescu, these soldiers are “an umbrella for an illegitimate regime in Trans-Dniester.”

Leaders of Greece, Bulgaria, Albania, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Turkey and Moldova also took part in the meeting.

The ten countries adopted a joint statement calling for increased cooperation in combating terrorism, organized crime and smuggling. All leaders also condemned terrorist acts in Iraq and the taking of hostages from the Balkans. They also pledged to cooperate in improving regional transport networks and their connection with other European routes.

The curator of European Union enlargement, Olli Rehn, and other authorities of the EU and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) also attended the conference.

The European Commissioner called for a constructive dialogue on Kosovo, saying that the status of the province is an important issue that must be solved for the countries of the region to join the EU. Moreover, Rehn said that the prospects of the countries of southeastern Europe to join the Union will depend on their own progress and merits.

From Lukor
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