The prime ministers of six Balkans nations called Thursday on the European Union to help finance their economic development, stressing it is key for the volatile region's stability.
"We need money to develop infrastructure and we are addressing Europe to get it," Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic told a regional economic forum.
By financially supporting development projects and the integration of Balkan states into the EU "Europe finances its future," Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said.
It would help "to ensure a stable peace and (Europe) would avoid finding itself in the future in a situation similar to that in Ukraine," he said.
Rama was referring to the 13-month war in the former Soviet republic, sparked by the separatists' rejection of the pro-Western leadership in Kiev, that has claimed nearly 6,300 lives and left well over a million people homeless.
The Balkans were torn apart by the series of bloody inter-ethnic conflicts in the 1990s that accompanied the collapse of the former Yugoslavia.
"We are working to transform our disagreements and conflicts into the bridges of cooperation and development which will help us to be all together in the big European family," Kosovo Prime Minister Isa Mustafa said.
Kosovo, the former Serbian province with an ethnic Albanian majority which unilaterally declared independence in 2008, is at the heart of the friction between Belgrade and Pristina. Belgrade still refuses to recognise it as a nation, unlike some 100 countries including the United States and most EU member states.
Vucic, who arrived on Wednesday in a historic visit to Albania, said he and Rama agreed to jointly ask the European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker to finance the construction of a highway that would link Albania's port of Shengjin with the capital Pristina, then the southern Serbian city of Nis and the capital Belgrade.
On Wednesday, Vucic, in the first visit of a Serbian government head to Albania, and Rama pledged to strengthen their fragile ties in the interests of future stability in the Balkans.