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.