Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer has openly rejected Ukraine’s quick accession to the EU, but has supported the accession of Western Balkan states to the bloc while referring to China, which, he said, is developing a stronger presence in the region.
There would be “no fast track procedure” into the EU for countries like Ukraine, Nehammer said in his address to the Salzburg Europe Summit on Sunday evening, local daily Kronen Zeitung reported.
“There needs to be a level playing field because the European community must also take itself seriously through the membership frameworks it sets for itself,” Nehammer said.
The chancellor added that Vienna will remain “a strong and reliable partner of Western Balkan states in achieving a level playing field for EU membership.”
Nehammer also advocated for Western Balkan states to be admitted to the EU as soon as possible. Austrian companies are among the region’s largest investors, Nehammer said.
“The EU must win the competition with other countries, for example in Serbia, in a positive sense,” he added.
According to Nehammer, China is in the process of developing a stronger presence in the Western Balkans. Europe should “not be naive” in the face of this situation, the chancellor stressed.
The annual conference is held in Salzburg on current European topics concerning future strategies and challenges for politics and business.
The conference is organized by the Institute of the Regions of Europe (IRE), which was founded in 2004. The Institute was founded with the aim of creating a forum for European regions, municipalities, and companies.
On July 1, 2013, Croatia became the first of the seven countries to join, while Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia have candidate country status. Accession negotiations and chapters have been opened with Montenegro and Serbia, negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia were opened in July 2022, and Kosovo submitted its application for EU membership in December 2022, according to the EU parliament.
Croatia became the first of the seven Western Balkan nations to join on July 1, 2013, with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia as candidate countries.
According to the EU parliament, accession negotiations and chapters have begun with Montenegro and Serbia, negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia began in July 2022, and Kosovo presented its application for EU membership in December 2022.
Source : AA