European Western Balkans

Council’s decision on North Macedonia and Albania reveals EU’s divisions

The Europa building; Photo: European Union

BRUSSELS – While being a “major blow” to the EU accession hopes of both North Macedonia and Albania, the Council’s postponement of the decision to open negotiations also made the the existing divisions between EU member states more clear,  writes EURACTIV.

Both Albania and North Macedonia have hoped that a positive decision during the Council’s meeting Luxembourg would mark the beginning of negotiation process with EU, the portal reminds.

However, some member states such Netherlands and France confirmed their stance on opposing further EU enlargement as they expressed doubts about Albania’s EU accession, because of corruption and organised crime.

Additionally, Cyprus warned it would use its veto against any enlargement decision unless the EU takes action against Turkey, which is currently drilling for offshore gas in its economic zone, EURACTIV claims.

On the other hand, a more “enlargement-friendly” countries are determined to keep the process alive. George Ciamba, Minister for European Affairs of Romania, EU’s presiding country, stated that stability of the Western Balkan countries is significant for EU and that his country had done a lot in order to promote the enlargement process.

“Romania is now trying to find the way, that would be engaging, constructive and in the same time would keep the strategic balance and strategic importance of the Western Balkan for Europe”, said Ciamba for EURACTIV.

Thirteen EU members lead an initiative to open negotiations with Skopje and Tirana

Similarly, Tomáš Petříček, Czech Minister of Foreign affairs, strongly supports opening of accession talks, emphasizing that both countries had implemented reforms and fulfilled a lot of conditions that were demanded.

“North Macedonia made a giant leap towards EU accession when it resolved a 27-year-long dispute with Greece over its name. The so-called Prespa agreement of June 2018 opened the way for NATO and EU membership talks, which until then had been blocked by Greece”, he stated.

The Czech Republic has been among thirteen member states that supported the initiative to open accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania earlier this month.

When it comes to Albania, internal political infighting is the main obstacle for opening of negotiations with EU which is “influencing the assessing of some member states”, states Ciamba.

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