The United States welcomes the important steps the European Union is taking to advance the integration of the Western Balkans into the Euro-Atlantic community by opening EU accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia. In a moment when Russia has shattered peace in Europe, it is more important than ever to support the aspiration for a Europe whole, free, and at peace. A democratic, secure, and prosperous Western Balkans remains essential to this vision. The United States will continue to be a strong and reliable partner as those nations work to defend human rights, strengthen democratic reforms, and uphold the rule of law. The steps that the EU, Albania, and North Macedonia have taken in recent days should inspire all EU aspirants in the region to increase their commitment to strengthening their democracies.

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