(Washington, D.C.)—U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs, congratulated the Serbian government for taking a critical step towards membership in the European Union (EU). Serbia is expected to officially achieve candidate status at a meeting of EU ministers today. The move, which follows closely after Serbia and Kosovo reached an important regional cooperation agreement, allows Serbia to begin formal accession talks with EU officials.
“This is a good development for the entire Western Balkans region and for Europe,” Shaheen said. “I want to congratulate the Serbian government for taking the difficult but necessary steps to achieve this important milestone, and I commend the European Union for its efforts to move both Serbia and Kosovo toward future EU membership.
“Though these are critical steps for Serbia and Kosovo, the journey towards membership remains long and difficult, and there will be tough decisions in months and years ahead. All of the countries in the Western Balkans share a future in the European Union, and I look forward to working with everyone in the region towards a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace.”
Kosovo also received important EU-related news last week, when European officials took the first steps toward negotiating a new Stabilization and Association agreement. The agreement is an important step on the road to future EU membership.
Shaheen has been a strong supporter of Serbia and Kosovo pursuing EU membership. Her op-ed published last December, “A More Perfect European Union,” urged the European Union to approve Serbia as an official candidate for future EU accession. As the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe, she has visited the Western Balkans multiple times and has chaired a hearing on the future of the Western Balkans.
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