Official says Balkans must end bilateral disputes to join EU

European Council President Donald Tusk has urged Western Balkan leaders to solve festering bilateral issues and deliver a clear signal their countries are ready to join the European Union.

Speaking at a regional summit in Macedonia, Tusk focused on the independence dispute between Serbia and Kosovo, and the naming dispute between Macedonia and EU member Greece.

He says it is up to regional leaders to make “extra efforts” to overcome their disagreements, adding that the EU remains the most reliable partner for Western Balkan countries.

This week, Tusk visited Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia — all former Communist states and EU hopefuls.

Heads of state or government from all five countries, as well as EU members Croatia, Slovenia, and Bulgaria, attended Friday’s meetings in Skopje.