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Leaders Of Balkan Countries Urge EU To Keep Expanding

Serbian President Boris Tadic addresses the summit in Sarajevo.
The presidents of Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, and Montenegro have met in Sarajevo to pledge better relations among themselves and advance their membership bids for the European Union.

The leaders said that European Union enlargement is not responsible for the current financial crisis, and therefore should not be put on hold.

"We can feel 'enlargement fatigue' in the EU," Serbian President Boris Tadic told the summit. "But if the enlargement policy stops because of the economic crisis, the bloc would make a giant and irreversible mistake that would leave terrible consequences in the region."

"The crisis was not created in the EU, and especially not because of its enlargement policy...and citizens of our countries should not pay the price of such a crisis," Tadic said.

The presidents agreed that membership in the EU is in their joint strategic interests, and that they will help each other to individually join the 27-member bloc.

They also urged EU foreign ministers to reaffirm their commitment toward accepting Western Balkan countries as members at a summit next week in Sarajevo.

The EU requires that all the Western Balkan countries must develop good relations with their neighbors if they want to join the bloc.

compiled from agency reports