EU Reportedly Seeks to Expand Into Balkans to Counter Russian Influence

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The European Union reportedly intends to include six countries into its fold in a bid deal with several major issues the organization is currently facing.

Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the self-proclaimed Kosovo republic are about to be offered EU membership, according to the Financial Times.

According to the newspaper, Brussels intends to make this move because the Balkans serve as a gateway for thousands of migrants seeking to enter Europe

Also, the newspaper claims that EU strategists "fear that Russia is expanding influence in a region where it has traditional allies" as "Moscow has started to play on growing cynicism over the EU’s membership promises by touting itself as an alternative partner."

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"A significant number of citizens of the region believe they will never join the EU," Florian Bieber, a south-east Europe specialist at the university of Graz, said.

The new EU enlargement plan is expected to be adopted by the European Commission on Tuesday, February 6.

Madrid however has already declared that Kosovo should be excluded from this plan, as Spain, along with Cyprus, Greece, Romania, and Slovakia, does not recognize it as a sovereign country.

READ MORE: US Pulling the Strings of Power in Kosovo — Expert

Russia has maintained cordial relations with most of the Balkan states since 1990s, and enjoys friendly ties and close knit cooperation with Serbia, supporting the country during the NATO military intervention in 1999 and refusing to recognize Kosovo’s unilateral secession in 2008.

The latest expansion of the EU took place in 2013 when Croatia became part of the union.

So far only one of the European Union member states, the United Kingdom, declared intent to secede from it following the results of the Brexit referendum in 2016.

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