VILNIUS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda expects Western Balkan partners' solidarity with the EU's stance on the Russia-started war in Ukraine.
"In the context of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, we expect our partners in the Western Balkans to stand in solidarity with EU’s position towards Ukraine and support for it, to condemn the Kremlin’s aggression and to join EU’s policy of sanctions against Russia," the Lithuanian leader told the EU-Western Balkans Summit held in Tirana, Albania, on Tuesday.
"Our values, actions and positions on foreign policy issues have to be aligned, otherwise it will be difficult to talk about further European integration," the president was quoted as saying in a statement released by the presidential press service.
In a video later released by the presidential press service, Nauseda said not only reforms being implemented were important for EU membership.
"Equally important, if not more important, is that these countries adhere to their common commitments, and to the values that the EU upholds, especially in the face of this war. They include very clear support for Ukraine, actions in line with the EU's common policy, participation in the sanction mechanism," the Lithuanian president said.
He also said he expected the process to move "even faster".
"Lithuania has never been skeptical about accepting new members. Of course, under certain conditions," Nauseda said.
According to the president, the creation of an integrated regional market based on renewable energy sources as a key to resilience against Russian energy blackmail, as well as curbing energy price hikes should be given special focus.
Nauseda also emphasized that Lithuania favored enhancing cooperation between the EU and the Western Balkan countries, and supported EU enlargement "based on the merits and reform efforts of the candidate countries".
Granting the EU candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova was a positive momentum to the EU enlargement process, Nauseda said, adding that now it's an excellent time for the Western Balkan countries to pursue reforms and to make progress towards EU membership.
The Lithuanian president also welcomed the opening of EU accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia, and supported the granting of the candidate country status to Bosnia and Herzegovina.