The European integration of the Western Balkans is the only guarantee for the development of the region.

In his final speech in the role of Enlargement Commissioner, Johannes Hahn today expressed regret over the vacuum created by the failure to open negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia.

According to him, it is a strategic mistake to treat countries as Europe's periphery, when they are really part of it.

“Our credibility has been seriously damaged. We guaranteed that with the fulfillment of the conditions we will start negotiations. We did not keep that promise and I hope this decision will be revised, to avoid the creation of dangerous vacuums,” said Hahn to lawmakers.

For the European official, the skepticism of certain countries over the yet-to-be-implemented reforms in Tirana and Skopje is not justifiable.

“The green light for the two capitals would be a signal to take the next step, to confirm satisfaction with the work done so far,” said Hahn.

Speaking with the same level of anger was also the Latvian MEP, Sandra Kalniete, who said she felt personally ashamed of the October summit decision.

“If we disappoint at the other summit, for the hopes of these countries, it would be disastrous for us,” said Kalniete.

After leaving the Enlargement and Neighborhood Ministries, the Austrian official Hahn is tasked with budget cases in the new composition of the European Commission.