European Western Balkans

EU Ambassadors agree to delay EU talks with Albania and North Macedonia

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BRUSSELS – The EU ambassadors have disagreed on starting EU talks with Albania and North Macedonia in December, Euronews reported.

The Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) agreed in their draft conclusions that Albania is not yet ready to hold the first intergovernmental conference with the EU, as there is still work to be done on the conditions set since March 2020.

The ambassadors praised Albania’s work on reforms, but stressed it should show more progress in meeting the conditions.

Regarding North Macedonia, the document stated that the date for the first conference will be set once the country solves its issues with Bulgaria.

Bulgaria has blocked the start of accession talks with North Macedonia. It claims that the Macedonian language is a dialect of Bulgarian and that there is no Macedonian minority in Bulgaria. Both statements are required to be included in the final document allowing for the start of talks.

Prime Minister of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev has so far refused to cede to the requests.

Italy reportedly tried to soften the language of the text of the conclusions for Albania, but the request was rejected.

The draft conclusions reached today by the EU ambassadors will be adopted by the General Affairs Council, consisting of ministers of foreign and European affairs of EU member states, on December 8.

The start of negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia may be approved in March 2021.

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