Europe

Top EU official to Balkan leaders: Embrace European future

  • Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, Montenegro Prime Minister  Dusko Markovic, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, Bosnian Prime Minister  Denis Zvizdic, EU Commissioner for Enlargement Johannes Hahn, Macedonian Prime Minister  Emil Dimitriev, Kosovo Prime Minister  Isa Mustafa and Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano poses for photo during the opening ceremony of a summit of Western Balkan leaders in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on Thursday, March. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Amel Emric)

    Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, Bosnian Prime Minister Denis Zvizdic, EU Commissioner for Enlargement Johannes Hahn, Macedonian Prime Minister Emil Dimitriev, Kosovo Prime Minister Isa Mustafa and Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano poses for photo during the opening ceremony of a summit of Western Balkan leaders in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on Thursday, March. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Amel Emric)  (The Associated Press)

  • EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Johannes Hahn addresses a journalist during press conference marking the end of a summit of Western Balkan leaders in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on Thursday, March. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Amel Emric)

    EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Johannes Hahn addresses a journalist during press conference marking the end of a summit of Western Balkan leaders in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on Thursday, March. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Amel Emric)  (The Associated Press)

  • Prime Minister of Montenegro Dusko Markovic, right, talks with his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic, left, during the opening ceremony of a summit of Western Balkan leaders in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on Thursday, March. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Amel Emric)

    Prime Minister of Montenegro Dusko Markovic, right, talks with his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic, left, during the opening ceremony of a summit of Western Balkan leaders in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on Thursday, March. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Amel Emric)  (The Associated Press)

The European Union's enlargement commissioner has urged Balkan leaders to stop stoking regional tensions and fully embrace their European future.

Johannes Hahn addressed the prime ministers of Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia and Serbia in Sarajevo on Thursday.

Hahn says the EU understands it's in its "hard-headed self-interest" to promote the troubled region's future within the bloc when U.S policy for that part of the world is unclear and there are "unprecedented levels of involvement from further east" — an apparent reference to Russian meddling in the Balkans.

He said: "We now have one of those windows of opportunity where either the region as a whole picks up momentum and we generate a genuinely positive narrative, or we end up in a really awkward spot, with a stream of bad news slamming the window firmly shut."