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EU Leaders Say Balkans At Crossroads --> German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed the summit (epa) May 11, 2007 -- A top European Union official has urged Southeastern European leaders to work on reforms to earn membership in the bloc.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told a summit of 11 Balkan leaders in Zagreb that the EU will support reform in the region, which remains Europe's "missing limb."

The summit gathered presidents or prime ministers of Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, Moldova, Turkey, and a minister from Serbia, as well as EU members Greece, Romania, and Bulgaria. The UN-administered Serbian province of Kosovo is also represented.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel -- whose country currently holds the rotating EU Presidency -- told the summit that Southeastern Europe is at a crossroads. Merkel said the region was still threatened by forces that could lead it to instability and isolation.

U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns is also attending the summit.

The gathering is to confirm a decision on establishing a new Regional Cooperation Council, which is to replace the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe in early 2008.

Addressing the meeting on May 10, EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn praised Balkan countries for making the "historic" progress needed to take over the responsibility of developing their own ties.


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