Borrell Visits Western Balkans Amid Security Concerns Over Russian Proxies – Release
European Commission Vice-President and top diplomat Josep Borrell has embarked on a trip to three Western Balkan countries amid growing security concerns in the region following Russian aggression against Ukraine.
Borrell traveled to North Macedonia on Monday and will be hosted in Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the next two days.
“North Macedonia has strongly condemned Russian aggression against Ukraine, fully aligning itself with EU sanctions. I thanked President Pendarovski for his personal commitment, especially in the fight against disinformation,” Borrell said. tweeted after meeting the Macedonian President. He reiterated EU support for a democratic and secure Western Balkan region.
Pendarovski stressed his country’s alignment with EU foreign and security policy, in the face of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and beyond, and reiterated the need for Bulgaria to lift its veto for the first negotiations for North Macedonia’s accession to the EU to begin.
Borrell is also expected to assure Albania of strong EU support for its security and European prospects.
By contrast, Bosnia and Herzegovina suffers from continued threats and attempts by Republika Srpska to dissolve the country, and Borrell will face more difficult issues during his visit.
In line with the Serbian policy of refusing to align with EU foreign and security policy, the Bosnian Serbs also vetoed attempts to impose sanctions on Russia after the invasion of Ukraine .
Serbia and Republika Sprska – one of the two entities that make up Bosnia and Herzegovina – are Russia’s strongest allies in Europe and the only ones still refusing to impose sanctions since 2014, when Russia took over. control of Crimea. No Serbian leader in either country has ever condemned Russia’s aggression in his public statements. Meanwhile, Belgrade is the only European city to hold rallies in support of Putin and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A second rally took place on Sunday.
The EU doubled its military presence in Bosnia after the invasion of Ukraine, but has so far chosen to be soft on Serbia and Republika Sprska.
A group of members of the European Parliament recently urged the European Commission to abandon its leniency towards Serbia and push the country to choose between the European Union and Russia.
A number of Western Balkan politicians have called on the EU to remain vigilant against Russian attempts to spread conflict in the region through its proxies, Serbia and Republika Srpska.