“The European Union foreign policy chief on Thursday hailed efforts by nations in Western Balkans to advance toward membership in the bloc, ending a tour of the volatile region where Russia is also vying for influence.

Federica Mogherini spoke in Serbian capital Belgrade, the last stop of her trip that also included Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro. The region remains tense following the wars of the 1990s and the prospect of EU membership has proved an important driving force at reform.

“Let me say that I am impressed by the energy, the commitment, the ambitions and the willingness everywhere … to move forward on the reform path toward the European Union membership,” Mogherini said at a joint news conference with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.” (US World News and Report)

“When Commissioner Johannes Hahn announced Tuesday that Western Balkans countries were making “good progress” toward joining the EU, one could be forgiven for wondering if he was indeed talking about the same region we both grew up in.

Presenting the EU’s 2018 enlargement package and six reports on individual Western Balkan countries, the Commissioner celebrated the bloc’s enlargement process for “modernizing the region’s economies and societies, making it gradually a more prosperous and stable place.”

The commissioner and his colleagues should have paused to consider how their long, loving embrace of the Balkans is actually smothering our hopes of EU membership.” (Politico EU)