Cyprus backs speedier EU enlargement to Balkans

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Nicosia urges Brussels to speed up the enlargement process to prevent the Western Balkans from becoming vulnerable to the influence of Russia, China, and Turkey.

Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides argued that political instability caused by the crisis in Ukraine, combined with the growing influence of third countries in the Western Balkans, is a cause for concern.

“The EU must accelerate the enlargement process and support our partners in the Western Balkans to preserve its own credibility and avoid making the region more vulnerable to the influence of third countries such as Russia, China and Turkey,” said Kasoulides.

EU Foreign Ministers exchanged views in Brussels on the Western Balkans and examined ways to strengthen political engagement in individual sectors.

They took part in a working lunch with their counterparts from Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania.

They also reviewed the latest developments in Ukraine from the ongoing Russian invasion in the presence of the Foreign Ministers of Ukraine and Canada.

Foreign Ministers participated in an EU – Canada ministerial meeting in the presence of Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly.

During the EU – Canada ministerial meeting, Kasoulides said that reshaping the security architecture in Europe is vital, and Cyprus supports the strengthening of EU – NATO cooperation in a mutually beneficial way.

He referred to Canada’s long-standing contribution to civilian and military missions in the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and Canada’s participation in the military mobility programme in the EU’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO).

Greece provided an update on Turkish violations of Greek airspace, with Cyprus supporting its position.

On the sidelines of the Foreign Affairs Council, Kasoulides held a bilateral meeting with Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic.