European Union divided over Western Balkan enlargement

EU grants 38.5 mln euro co-financing to EBRD-funded railway project in Kosovo

His pessimism stems mostly from the fact that Croatia has a number of unresolved border issues with candidate countries from the region. Poland, Italy and Austria are among other European Union countries in favor of stepping up efforts to open the bloc to the region, where the European Union sees "growing Russian and Chinese influence".

The grant will be used to finance the modernisation of the southern section of Kosovo's 148-km long rail route 10 - from Fushe Kosove near the capital Pristina to the border of Macedonia.

Hungary's foreign minister, Peter Szijjarto, said he was "very much disappointed" by the 2025 target, which he called "very late", arguing that Serbia and Montenegro should be admitted by 2022.

"If we take it seriously that we, the European Union, would like to be the victor regarding strategies and regarding endeavours on the Western Balkans we should be much quicker".

"It is obvious the USA has a strategy on the Western Balkans, Russia has a strategy on the Western Balkans, Turkey has a strategy on the Western Balkans - it is only the European Union which is extremely slow", he said.

European Union members Slovenia and Croatia have been struggling to sort out a long-standing border dispute, while Belgrade - and five European Union countries - do not recognise the independence of Kosovo, which broke away from Serbia in 2008 after a scarring war.

Following the meeting of foreign ministers on Thursday, Austria's Karin Kneissl told reporters: "Who will be first in Belgrade - China or the EU?"

"Slovenia has had 20 years of dialogue with the Croatian side to find a solution regarding the border between Slovenia and Croatia".

Slovenia's Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec said it was "not realistic" to think Serbia and Montenegro would be ready for membership by 2025. The project also includes two other sections, Fushe Kosove to Mitrovice and from Mitrovice to the Serbian border, also benefiting from European Union and WBIF financing.

The EU has also been stung by taking on new members when they were arguably not yet ready.

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