June 25, 2018 / 6:41 PM / in 4 months

EU shouldn't drag feet on enlargement - Hungary foreign minister

LONDON (Reuters) - The European Union should speed up enlargement to include countries from the Western Balkans, Hungary’s foreign minister Peter Szijjarto said on Monday.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto speaks at a joint news conference with his Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias (not pictured) during the "Visegrad-4 plus Balkan-4 plus" meeting in Sounion, Greece, May 11, 2018. REUTERS/Costas Baltas

Even the most advanced aspirants in the Western Balkans, Serbia and Montenegro, are unlikely to join the bloc before 2025 at the earliest under current EU timelines.

“We must enlarge the EU as quickly and as soon as possible,” Szijjarto said at London’s Chatham House think tank, arguing that it shouldn’t require another seven years to go though the process.

“We want to see EU 28, 29, 30. The Western Balkans is a place where tensions can emerge.”

France and the Netherlands are holding out against European Union plans to allow membership talks with Albania and Macedonia over concerns the decision could further stoke anti-immigration sentiment in the bloc, EU diplomats have said.

Reporting by Marc Jones; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg

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