Western Balkan countries deserve realistic chance to join EU, Germany says

EU and Western Balkans leaders meet in Brussels
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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Western Balkan countries must have a realistic opportunity to join the European Union after working hard for many years to fulfill the conditions for entering the bloc, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in Brussels on Thursday.

"The citizens in the Western Balkans have been waiting for almost 20 years for the opportunity to become members of the European Union," Scholz told reporters ahead of a meeting of EU and Western Balkans leaders.

"It is of utmost importance that this becomes a credible promise because the many efforts that these countries have undertaken must in the end actually lead to their admission," he said, adding that Germany would work towards this goal.

(Reporting by Sabine Siebold and Rachel More)