Jean-Claude Juncker says that 2025 is not the year when Serbia and Montenegro “would have to” join the EU – but rather “an indicative date, an encouragement.”

(Getty Images, file)

Juncker said it was wrong to represent him and the European Commission as having said that Serbia and Montenegro must be in the EU by 2025.

“That is an indicative date; an encouragement so that the parties concerned work hard to follow that path,” he said,” the EC president said in Strasbourg before the unveiling of the EU’s enlargement strategy.

He also said that Serbia and Montenegro, as countries that advanced most, received “a new date that should speed things up.”

“We want to see enlargement in the Western Balkans, but not without meeting membership conditions. They have not yet met the conditions, and some are far from it,” Juncker emphasized, addressing the European Parliament.

He added that the EU wants to “give its hand” to its partners in the Western Balkans and help them continue along the “hard road” of EU integration. “I think that Serbia and Montenegro can overcome this hard road,” he said.

“There can be no further accession for Western Balkans countries without border disputes having first been resolved,” Juncker also said.

The website euobserver.com reported on Monday that Juncker will be visiting Belgrade, Podgorica, Pristina, Sarajevo, Skopje, Tirana, and Sofia, from February 26 until March 1.

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