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Central EU States Back Expansion To Balkans

25 May 2004 -- Seven central European states that belong to both the European Union and the Central European Initiative (CEI) have agreed to help neighboring states that want to join the EU.

Foreign ministers from the CEI countries said today in statement following a meeting in Slovenia's Adriatic sea resort of Portoroz that further efforts have to be made to ensure that the entire region of the western Balkans moves closer toward the EU. The CEI was created in 1989 by Italy, Austria, Hungary, and Yugoslavia.

After the EU's enlargement eastward this month, seven of the CEI states -- Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, and Slovakia -- are now members of the bloc.

The other 10 CEI members are Albania, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, and Serbia and Montenegro, and Ukraine.