dow due to stalled bailout talks between the government and its official creditors. Their dependence on the ELA emergency lifeline has declined since June last year when the European Central Bank reinstated banks’ access to its cheap funding operations.
The Visegrad countries, namely Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, have taken a strong stance in favor of Western Balkan states joining the European Union following a meeting of foreign ministers in Budapest on Wednesday. The acceleration of the Western Balkan region’s Euro-Atlantic integration is a security and economic interest for all of Europe, said Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto. He emphasized the integration of the Western Balkans was best supported by Central European and Southeastern European countries because they lived “here in the neighborhood.” “Guaranteeing the security of the Western Balkans is accelerating the EU and NATO accession processes,” he underlined. He said if a new wave of migration started from the south, it could only be stoppable by stable and strong Western Balkans countries. But if the Western Balkans were unstable, he said a wave of migration would “come to the southern edge of Hungary in no time.” “The security and integration of the Western Balkans would be the priority of the Bulgarian EU Presidency in the first semester of 2018,” Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva announced. “If the Western Balkan states are not part of the EU, the European project will not be completed,” she warned.