BELGRADE – When Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama wrote to the Times of London about the risk of Brexit, his message was clear – and echoed other Balkan nations desperate to join the European Union.

“Please don’t go,” Rama pleaded, reported.

As Britons head towards Thursday’s stay-or-go referendum on the EU, countries in south-eastern Europe fear for the impact on their own hopes of joining the Brussels club if the Leave campaign wins.

“My biggest fear is that the Western Balkans will go ‘below the radar’ whatever happens in the UK,” said Tanja Mišcević, who is leading Serbia’s negotiations with the EU.

“Negotiations between the 27 member states and the UK will be a priority on the EU’s agenda along with the migrant crisis, Turkey and then – if something else does not come up – enlargement and Serbia,” she said.

Six Balkan countries have officially said they want to join the EU: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia – together home to around 20 million people.