"This will be a test showing what an open EU looks like," President Duda said after a meeting of the presidents of the Visegrad Group (V4 comprises Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia) with the presidents of Slovenia and Serbia.
Addressing a press conference after the meeting, President Duda said that today's talks focused on the EU accession of Western Balkan countries. He stressed that the V4 countries had a clearly-defined position on this issue. "We are an advocate of an open door to the EU. We believe that this is the only path for Europe to develop in a calm and peaceful way," he said.
The Polish president underlined that accession criteria must be clear and dates must be fixed if the process of bringing Western Balkan countries closer to the EU is to proceed.
According to Duda, without this, it will be very difficult to convince the societies of those countries to bear the costs of the necessary reforms. The president admitted that "being the EU newcomers for 15 years, we are perfectly aware of the fact that this is a road marked by sacrifice, which is to be made by societies. And the accession prospect must be clear and obvious in order to convince them," he said.
He expressed his hope that clear EU accession criteria for North Macedonia and Albania will be defined in October. "I hope that the EU will pass this test since this is a very important element for its development, which is of key significance for the EU's future, also with a view to Brexit," he added.
"The EU must show that it is alive even if someone decides to leave it, like the British people, that the European project is attractive, that there are countries which want to join the union, and that the EU is still an oasis of freedom," he said. (PAP)