At the Bled Strategic Forum on Monday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the Western Balkans are part of the European family. “Let there be no doubt: Our friends from the Western Balkans are part of our European family. The Danube, the Adriatic and the Balkan mountains have always been a link, never a border. Our economies are tied together, after centuries of trade and travel. So prosperity in the Balkans depends entirely on their integration with the rest of Europe. Most importantly, the people of the Western Balkans overwhelmingly aspire to join the European Union. Yet, we know that, in recent years, progress has been slowed, not least by international actors, including Russia, who seek to undermine democratic institution building and the rule of law. We have, as European Union, a clear strategic interest that all Western Balkan Six keep advancing on the path towards European membership. Because Western Balkan stability is European stability. And Western Balkan prosperity is also European prosperity,” she stated.