Problems with supplying COVID-19 vaccines to the Balkans are jeopardising the European Union's credibility with the region and creating "mistrust", Italy's foreign minister Luigi Di Maio said on Monday.
"The EU is risking its credibility with the western Balkans," Di Maio told a Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels.
"After the excellent response during the first phase of the pandemic, difficulties in helping the region by sending vaccines is creating a sense of mistrust towards the EU," Di Maio said.
Monday's discussions are a chance for Italy "to send a strong message on our commitment to the region," Di Maio added.
"The EU's political stance is too weak compared with its (very high) financial commitment," he went on.
The COVID-19 pandemic, its social and economic consequences and persistent problems in advancing the EU enlargement process "all fuel dangerous nationalistic tendencies," Di Maio underlined.