European Commission President Juncker Worried about US Approach to Western Balkans

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President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said he would soon visit Croatia and neighbouring countries which are not yet members of the European Union.

It is not a good thing for countries of the Western Balkans that certain individuals from the new US administration give the impression that they are against the European Union, because these countries need a European perspective, said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, reports Jutarnji List on February 22, 2017.

In an interview with a group of Croatian and Slovenian journalists, Juncker said that he intended to soon visit Croatia, but that his staff wanted him to stay in Brussels. “I intend to come to a visit, but my people are blocking me because they want me to be in Brussels. I want to visit the Western Balkan countries, including Croatia, which is a member state of the European Union”, said Juncker.

“I have explained to US Vice President Mike Pence why it is bad news for the Western Balkans that some people in the new American administration give the impression that they want to weaken the European Union. This is negative for the Western Balkans, because I think that these countries, with the exception of Croatia, which is already a member, want a European perspective. They cannot join the EU before 2019, but will join it later. However, if someone in Washington is saying that the EU is nothing and that other countries should follow Brexit, then this is bad news for our friends in the western Balkans, which for obvious reasons needs a European perspective”, said Juncker.

In early March, Juncker will visit Slovenia, but he stressed that he would not discuss the controversy around the terrano wine, which is the reason why Slovenia has objections on the Commission’s work, since the Commission wants to allow Croatian winemakers to sell their wine under that name, which was earlier protected by Slovenia.

“Do not ask me anything about wine. Although I am a beer drinker, I love Slovenian wines, but that will not be the main topic of my visit to Slovenia. I want to go to Slovenia because I have not been there for years, and I love that country. However, I will not talk at all about wine, but about the future of Europe. I want to find out how the Slovenian government and president see the European future”, said Juncker, adding that the “issue of wine will be solved”.

He reiterated his earlier statement that he did not want the second term as the head of the European Commission, noting that he did not want to be like his predecessor, Jose Manuel Barroso, who after the first half of the first term did everything he could to appeal to EU member states. “I want to be a free man, I do not want to be liked by member states”, concluded Juncker.


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