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Tusk Says Reconciliation Efforts In Balkans 'Important' For Europe

President of the European Council, Donald Tusk

European Council President Donald Tusk praised Macedonia's efforts to reconcile with its neighbors as it accelerates its bid to join the European Union, and said such efforts are needed across the Western Balkans and are "important" for Europe.

Speaking at a regional summit in Skopje on April 27, Tusk singled out the festering dispute between Serbia and Kosovo over Pristina's declaration of independence 10 years ago, which Belgrade has never recognized.

Tusk compared that disagreement with a dispute over the name Macedonia between Macedonia and EU member Greece, which he said showed signs of progress toward settlement.

He said Macedonian leaders have shown "real political will" to resolve their dispute, while other regional leaders have as yet to make the "extra efforts" needed to overcome their disagreements.

"Reconciliation in this part of Europe is important for the whole continent, for our stability, peace, and prosperity," Tusk said.

"It is possible that the history of the Balkans, a kind of a never ending horror movie, can turn into an Oscar winning production with a happy end," he said.

This week, Tusk visited Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, and Macedonia — all former Communist states and EU hopefuls.

Heads of state from all five countries, along with EU members Croatia, Slovenia, and Bulgaria, attended the summit meetings in Skopje.

Slovenian President Borut Pahor urged Balkan leaders to work harder to build good relations with their neighbors, noting that it is a pre-condition for EU membership.

"Brussels cannot do everything. Part of the job has to be done by Western Balkan leaders," Pahor said.

The EU has set the goal of admitting Serbia and Montenegro into the bloc as soon as 2025. The European Commission also recently recommended that Albania and Macedonia start accession talks.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters