Direct message from Europe: Serbia must decide
"We want Serbia with us, but for that we need clear evidence that the country shares our values, such as the rule of law and democracy, and that it rejects the Russian invasion," Von der Leyen said in an interview with the Austrian daily Wiener Zeitung and Kleine Zeitung.
She underlined that the foreign policy commitment of the candidates is very important.
"Of course, we expect everyone to pull the same side of the rope," the EC President underlined.
Asked how much the Western Balkans are connected with the status of Ukraine, and what can be offered to those countries, she pointed out that almost all the countries of the Western Balkans are on the European path away from Ukraine.
"I hope that we will find a solution, that we will finally be able to fulfill our promise and start accession negotiations. Bosnia-Herzegovina, for example, can enter accession negotiations immediately when it meets 14 main points. There has been a lot of progress and that should be acknowledged," she said.
Asked how long it will take for Ukraine to become a member of the EU, Von der Leyen pointed out that the accession process is linked to progress. "It is in the hands of the candidates how fast they are moving in the process," she said, noting that Slovakia and Turkey were granted candidate status in 1999, that Slovakia had done everything possible to implement the necessary reforms, and became a member five years later, while Turkey is more distant from membership than it has ever been."
Von der Leyen said that she got the impression that the Ukrainian authorities are highly motivated and the citizens are united around the desire to join the EU.
"They want to implement the necessary reforms as soon as possible. President Volodymyr Zelensky...