Thursday, 17 March 2016

New Atlanticist: Migrant Crisis, Brexit Distracting EU from Enlargement, Says Albania’s Foreign Minister

New Atlanticist: Migrant Crisis, Brexit Distracting EU from Enlargement, Says Albania’s Foreign Minister

The migrant crisis and the debate over the United Kingdom’s future in the European Union have shifted focus away from the enlargement of the bloc and this could disrupt the process of building democratic future member states, Albania’s Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati said on February 25.

“Unfortunately, the migrant crisis, coupled with other crises that Europe is facing, has transformed enlargement policy into a second-tier issue,” Bushati said in an interview at the Atlantic Council’s offices in Washington.

The British debate, meanwhile, does not allow the EU to think in more strategic terms about how to deal with the Western Balkans to “complete and consolidate the unification project,” he added.

In the absence of a cohesive and coherent EU response to the migrant crisis, officials from Albania, eight other Balkan nations—Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia—and Austria announced their decision on February 24 to slow the entry of migrants into their countries. It is “not possible to process unlimited numbers of migrants and applicants for asylum,” they said, suggesting that a complete halt may be inevitable.

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