Great Britain's exit from the European Union should not bring into question the EU membership prospects of Western Balkan countries, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande said in Paris on Monday.
Great Britain's decision has not changed anything in that regard, Merkel said after the third summit on the Western Balkans to dispel the Western Balkan countries' concern.
Leaders of six EU countries and six Western Balkan countries met in Paris for the third summit of the Berlin Process, a political initiative launched two years ago to help Southeast European countries draw closer to the EU through regional cooperation on concrete projects.
The Paris meeting builds on a process that started with a meeting in Berlin on 28 August 2014, and continued a year later, on 27 August 2015, in Vienna.
The Berlin Process, which envisages five summits to be held by 2018, continues on the Brdo-Brijuni Process, launched in 2013 by Croatia and Slovenia.
At the Paris summit, the six western Balkan countries signed an agreement on the establishment of a regional youth cooperation office (RYCO). The office will be based in Tirana, a half of its budget will come from the countries-signatories while the other half will be provided by international financial institutions and the European Commission.
The initiative is a result of a proposal put forward by the prime ministers of Serbia and Albania at the Berlin summit in 2014.
The notion of youth cooperation in the Balkans is based on the model of a French-German youth cooperation office, formed in 1963 to promote post-war reconciliation, and the EU's student exchange programme Erasmus.