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German President Calls For Continued EU Support For Western Balkans

The leaders of western Balkan countries meet with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has urged Europe to remain committed to the western Balkans despite the many problems affecting the region.

Steinmeier was speaking on June 3 in Slovenia at the end of a European Union-sponsored meeting of Balkan leaders looking for ways to increase cooperation in the region.

The western Balkans consist of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Kosovo.

A joint communique after the meeting called for further EU integration, strengthening of dialogue, and a refraining from "nationalistic and inflammatory rhetoric."

Steinmeier said that "what happens in this region and also what doesn't happen is going to concern us and is going to have an impact on us."

"Peace, stability, and economic development in the region should be high on our agenda," he said.

The German presidency is a mainly ceremonial position.

While the EU has proposed membership to countries in the region, Russia has opposed most such moves and has attempted to increase its influence in the region.

Based on reporting by AP and STA