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EU leaders and their Western Balkan counterparts are gathering today for talks aimed at boosting their partnership as Russia’s war in Ukraine threatens to reshape the geopolitical balance in the region.

A one-day summit in Albania will see the EU meet with leaders from Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, has been repeating that stepping up the bloc’s engagement with the six nations is more crucial than ever to maintaining Europe’s security.

“In the Western Balkans, several crises are looming, and partners feel the immediate damaging impact of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” Borrell said last month. “The shockwaves of this war are hitting the Western Balkans. To counter that, we are stepping up our engagement as the Western Balkans remain our geostrategic priority — the closest and most important geostrategic priority.”

According to a draft of the declaration to be adopted at ithe summit, the EU will repeat “its full and unequivocal commitment to the European Union membership perspective of the Western Balkans” and call for an acceleration of accession talks with the incumbents.

In return, the EU expects full solidarity from its Western Balkans partners and wants them fully aligned with its foreign policies.

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