The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD), largest opposition party in the German Bundestag, said it would demand a referendum to be held in Germany before further EU enlargement into the Western Balkans, the FoNet news agency reported on Thursday.
AfD MP Siegberg Droese said that Western Balkans countries joining the EU “would Balkanise the EU, and we don’t want that before we ask our people if they agree with it.”
Droese said that the AfD would soon organise a referendum on the issue, adding that the date the President of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker had set for the enlargement, 2025, was bizzare and counter-productive.
He said that almost every country in the Western Balkans had structural problems with corruption and organised crime, but added his party would welcome the region in the EU, as long as various conditions, such as an independent judiciary for example, were met.
The AfD has said that some form of a Western Balkan Union, outside of the European Union, would be an acceptable option.
Out of six countries in the Western Balkan region, Serbia and Montenegro have opened chapters in their accession negotiations, while Macedonia is waiting for its parliament to approve the agreement to change the country’s name to North Macedonia, reached with Greece in June this year.
Bosnia is promised the prospect of joining when ready, as is Kosovo, provided it reaches an agreement on normalisation of relations with Serbia, and overcomes the opposition of five EU member states that have so far refused to recognise its independence (Spain, Slovakia, Cyprus, Romania, and Greece).
Albania is also waiting for the green light, pending its success in fighting organised crime and corruption.