The German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European Union officials met leaders of the Western Balkan countries in Berlin on Thursday in discussion around their entry into the EU.
The German Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that, "The future of the Balkan states lies with the EU."
However Mr. Gabriel also noted that to enter the EU, the nations had to improved rule of law, infrastructure and competitiveness.
Merkel stated that, "As we made clear, we want that the EU accession process continues quickly. Two of countries are already EU members, i.e. Slovenia and Croatia. Others have made significant progress or reached the accession status already.”
At the one day meeting were the heads of state of Bosnia, Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, Macedonia, and Montenegro along with already EU members Slovenia and Croatia.
This is the second time that Merkel has met the Balkans leaders in recent weeks; the first meeting was in Dubrovnik in July.
Another conference is planned for Vienna next year.
According to Croatian News Agency Hina, Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Vesna Pusic said on Thursday that after a long time, Germany is showing interest in the region, which is important for the countries.
Merkel also announced that on Saturday at an EU summit in Brussels they will discuss the possibility of further sanctions on Russia.
She said that, "We are getting reports of an increased presence of Russian soldiers and of new unrest and fresh advances of the separatists in areas that until now were very quiet,"
Merkel went on to say that, "We made it clear in March this year that if there were a further escalation, more sanctions would have to be discussed."