Ratas attending EU-Western Balkans summit in Sofia

PES leaders call for stepping up of EU accession for Balkan countries

"The summit was a success", President of the European Council Donald Tusk told the press after the event.

British Prime Minister Theresa May (C) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel speak following a trilateral meeting on the sidelines of an EU-Western Balkans Summit in Sofia on May 17, 2018.

The EU is also wary of admitting new members before they settle their differences, particularly in a region still bedevilled by the aftermath of the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki is in the Bulgarian capital for a European Union-Western Balkans summit on Thursday to discuss the bloc's possible westward expansion.

"I believe we have covered a major part of the distance, but there is still distance to cover", his Greek colleague added.

"We have pinpointed one option that may be acceptable for both sides [but] we have to consult with the other political factors in our countries, with the presidents and with the other political leaders", Zaev cautioned in a press conference.

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However, Bulgaria's Prime Minister, Boyko Borissov, who hosted the summit, told the press that Greece and Macedonia had "essentially clinched a deal" but that "it was their secret that will be shared first at home".

Government Spokesman of the Anastasiades administration, Prodromos Prodromou, referred to the intervention of the President of the Republic, Nicos Anastasiades, during the works of the EU-Western Balkans Summit, as well as on the contacts he held in the margins of the Summit. The 2015 nuclear agreement is an important element of regional peace and security so we chose to support it regardless of the United States' decision.

With Britain preparing to leave, the bloc's executive European Commission has proposed that EU leaders decide next month to open formal membership negotiations with Albania and Macedonia.

Many in the European Union fear importing Western Balkan problems and feuds, especially at a time when the bloc is still recovering from economic and migration crises that have fuelled euro-scepticism among its own voters. "There is no alternative", he said.

In public some European leaders played down the chances of a quick accession for the six Balkan states not in the EU while others warned of the dangers of losing the region.

It promises better cooperation in the fields of anti-terrorism and border control, doubles Erasmus+ financing, dedicated to the region, and expands the Western Balkans Investment Framework, by launching a set of new connectivity projects. The EU supports their commitment to continue to strengthen good neighborly relations, regional stability and mutual co-operation, "the declaration says".

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