Europe Needs Sway Over Western Balkans to Stem Russian Influence - Macron

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Merkel was grateful for the good organisation of the event.

European Union officials say there is no easy way to protect European Union firms and banks from the US sanctions that Trump has reimposed and some big names are already heading for the door.

In a statement, Total said: "We will not continue the SP11 (South Pars 11) gas project and will have to unwind all related operations before November 4, 2018, unless Total is granted a specific project waiver by United States authorities with the support of the French and European authorities". "But before the necessary reforms are completed, we should not be in a hurry with enlargement". "Both countries recently have done a lot, and that must be recognized", - said the European Commissioner for enlargement and neighbourhood policy, Johannes Hahn, referring to the reforms undertaken by the governments in Tirana and Skopje.

Meanwhile, the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, said that the stability of the Western Balkans region should be addressed.

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Many in the European Union fear importing Western Balkan problems and feuds, especially at a time when the bloc is still recovering from economic and migration crises that have fuelled euro-scepticism among its own voters.

"I am convinced that the EU is the only partner that cares genuinely about the stability of the entire region and a prosperous future for its peoples", said Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council. The main point is the growth of this region, Tajani commented.

More than 100 civil society representatives adopted their contribution to the EU-Western Balkans heads of state summit in Sofia. He added that the EP is strongly committed.

But in his private national press briefing, Vucic sounded downbeat, saying that it was "not realistic to expect Serbia to give everything without getting anything", and adding that Belgrade had made all efforts to achieve the goals of the Brussels Agreement, but was unhappy about Kosovo meeting its own commitments.

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"We do not stand as an obstacle, but we are helping to move in the European direction - against corruption, the rule of law, freedom of the media", the EP President concluded. "Negative influence from third parties is increasing".

Under the preliminary calculations, the projects have a combined value of 30 billion euro, Tajani said speaking through an interpreter during a news conference on the sidelines of the EU - Western Balkans summit in Sofia broadcast by Bulgarian TV channel Kanal 3. Kurz was categorical that his country supports the idea of enlarging the European Union. Upon his arrival in Sofia on Wednesday Ratas was welcomed by Bulgarian Prime Minister Bojko Borisov.

The meeting, hosted by PES president Sergei Stanishev, welcomed Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras and the prime minister of Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, as well as the socialist prime ministers of Portugal António Costa and Malta Joseph Muscat, ministers and leaders from PES member parties from the European Union and the Western Balkans.

The economies of the Western Balkan countries continue to grow but, despite that, the countries of the region remain among the poorest in Europe. Next month, the British capital will accept the leaders of the Berlin Process countries to discuss various aspects of security, said May.

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