Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Third Report

10 Conclusion

249. The United Kingdom and the EU have a powerful interest in the maintenance of stability in the Western Balkans and in the integration of the region into the Euro-Atlantic structures. They cannot ignore the Balkans, since the 2007 accession of Romania and Bulgaria will leave the region surrounded by EU territory. The international community must not allow the Western Balkans to become a resentful ghetto which exports drugs and people, crime and instability, to its neighbours. The scale of the task is not overwhelming; the states in the region are manageably small, and their entry is likely to cause less divisive argument within the EU than the accession of Turkey. The EU can make a huge difference in resolving the longstanding problems in the Balkans with its military presence and pre-accession funds; the political stability and economic development it can offer are in the interests of every state in the region, of Europe as a whole and of the United Kingdom in particular. Stability will depend, at the last resort, on positive engagement by the international community and the offer, subject to the usual conditions, of a clear path to full integration into the Euro-Atlantic institutions.

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