*EU enlargement process back on track*

Stability Pact Press Office PRESS RELEASE

/Brussels/ – The European Union’s enlargement process is clearly back on track following yesterday’s historic decisions regarding Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro and Turkey.

Beyond that, this is also an important signal to the whole of the Western Balkans, that the entire region has a clear European perspective, Special Co-ordinator of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe Erhard Busek said a day after the Foreign Ministers meeting in Luxembourg (4 October).

Decisions by the EU to open the delayed negotiations on Croatia’s membership of the EU and to start negotiating the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Serbia and Montenegro next week are historic in every sense. The European Commission’s opinion on the membership application of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will add to this new dynamism in the region.

“The prospect of EU membership is the driving force behind the much needed reform process in the region. Now that this perspective has been clearly reiterated by the EU, the countries in the region must demonstrate their commitment to the EU enlargement process by intensifying their efforts to meet the membership criteria,” Special Co-ordinator Busek said.

He added that “regional co-operation is the fundamental basis of the EU and therefore one of the key elements that must be addressed in the run-up to future EU integration.” The EU has stressed this on a number of occasions, as regional co-operation among the countries of the South Eastern Europe will prepare them for the much larger regional co-operation network that they will join.

The Stability Pact will continue to assist the countries to meet this important membership criteria and thereby expedite their progress in this complex enlargement process.

/For further information, please contact Stability Pact's Spokesperson
//Mr Dragan Barbutovski (+32 (2) 401-8725 or _press@stabilitypact.org_ )
//(Tel: +32 2 401 87 25 or paress@stabilitypact.org)./

inserted by Florian GRUBER on 2005-10-05 14:32:01