Schroeder slams critics of EU Balkan enlargement

8th June 2005, Comments 0 comments

8 June 2005, BERLIN - German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Wednesday attacked "populists" for seeking to destroy the European Union with a bid to prevent the bloc's enlargement in the western Balkans.

8 June 2005

BERLIN - German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on Wednesday attacked "populists" for seeking to destroy the European Union with a bid to prevent the bloc's enlargement in the western Balkans.

Schroeder, at a news briefing with Macedonian prime minister Vlado Buckovski, said the example of Macedonian stability was closely linked to its prospects for membership in the European Union and Nato.

The chancellor warned that ending these perspectives would fuel instability and he accused EU sceptics of using the rejection of EU constitution by French and Dutch voters in a bid to wreck the entire Union.

"Instability is much more expensive," said Schroeder in reply to a reporter who asked how enlargement into the region could be funded, adding: "You would be amazed if I told you how much the current situation in the Balkans with European soldiers costs."

Prime Minister Buckovski said being on track for closer EU and Nato ties was a crucial message of his government which helped counter extremists.

Schroeder, however, was wary about naming any concrete timetable for the admission of western Balkans nations to either the EU or Nato.

"This will vary greatly ... because the political and economic developments in the Balkans vary greatly," said Schroeder, adding: "I cannot tell you how long negotiations will take."

The chancellor praised Macedonia as being a frontrunner in the region, but he added that Buckovski's government needed to make more progress in privatisation and on domestic reforms.

DPA

Subject: German news

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