Theresa May has pledged Britain’s support for Balkan nations, saying their security and stability is linked to that of the rest of Europe.
The Prime Minister said on Thursday that the UK would continue its “longstanding and enduring commitment to the region”.
Mrs May, who joined other European leaders at the EU Western Balkans summit on Thursday, said that “history tells us that if the western Balkans are stable and secure, then all of Europe is more stable and secure”.
She said: “The region’s recent past has undoubtedly been difficult and Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia still face many threats to progress today.
“Serious and organised crime. Corruption. Terrorism. Youth unemployment. Illegal migration. Religious and political extremism.
“Left unmet, these challenges risk undermining hard-won progress and becoming a barrier further growth and reform.”
PM @Theresa_May is in Sofia for the Western Balkans Summit. She is meeting European leaders including PM @BoykoBorissov, President @EmmanuelMacron and Chancellor Merkel and leaders from the Western Balkans. pic.twitter.com/9NCVviltTl— UK Prime Minister (@10DowningStreet) May 17, 2018
She added: “The UK has a longstanding and enduring commitment to the region – seen through our leading role in the struggles of the nineties, the peace agreements that followed and the post-conflict transition- and I want to assure you that this is set to continue.”
The Prime Minister added that the next Western Balkans summit, due to be held in London in July, would address issues including corruption, organised crime and economic stability.
It will also seek to increase political co-operation over disputes between countries in the region and those stemming from the 1990s conflicts, Mrs May added.
The last wars on European soil took place in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo in the Balkans in the 1990s, following the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.
The comments came after Mrs May on Wednesday had reaffirmed Britain’s unconditional commitment to Europe’s security post-Brexit.