Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) emphasises the need to move forward with the expansion of the European Union on at a meeting with the European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement on Friday.
Reinsalu met Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi in Brussels and the pair discussed the opening of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania saying they could be as early as this spring.
Reinsalu said at the meeting that Estonia supports an enlargement policy based on strict conditionality and is ready to contribute so that the European Union can support the countries waiting for the invitation for accession negotiations in carrying out reforms.
"It is important to maintain the closest possible political contact with the Western Balkans," Reinsalu said.
He said he had to be vigilant that the lack of agreement on the opening of accession negotiations would not have a wider impact on relations with the Western Balkans, as decisions by European Union leaders have a direct impact on the Union's relations with the Western Balkans.
"Bringing the region closer to the EU is also, indirectly, a matter of our security," the minister added. Reinsalu said that efforts should be made to open accession negotiations ahead of the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Zagreb this spring.
The meeting also touched on issues related to the Eastern Partnership. Reinsalu and Varhely discussed developments in Turkey and the wider region and opportunities for further cooperation on migration issues.
Reinsalu was to attending an extraordinary meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Brussels on Friday to discuss the situation in the Middle East and North Africa.
Editor: Helen Wright