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Merkel Assures Balkans Of European Prospects

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has assured Balkan countries there would be no artificial delays on their drive to join the European Union.

Merkel started on July 8 a two-day tour of Albania, Serbia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

"I can tell you, nothing will be artificially delayed," she told a joint press conference with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama in Tirana. "There won't be any difficulties constructed.”

"It is in our own interests that our promise that the countries in the Western Balkans have a European perspective -- that we realize this perspective -- because that concerns our credibility," Merkel added.

"The idea that we wouldn't want to have Albania in the European Union because Muslims live here and more Christians live in our country -- that is completely wrong," she also said.

After meeting Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade later on July 8, the chancellor said the EU will help Hungary and Western Balkan countries struggling with an influx of migrants.

Merkel will visit Sarajevo on July 9.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters