European Western Balkans

The Czech Republic and Slovakia have blocked EU Council conclusions on enlargement

European Council meeting room; Photo: European Union

“Given the key role of this document and upon careful consideration we were unable to give our consent to the draft presented for approval today. The text as it stands contained elements including the notion of falsifying history that in our view would be hugely detrimental to the enlargement process and could potentially bring about further complications down the road”, reads the statement.

They added that they will not allow that the Union be the judge of “our shared history, how we identify ourselves or the language we use”.

“These issues belong to the parties concerned and we are here to support them with the experience of our own healing processes. The Council conclusions on enlargement, stabilization and association process need to convey a united message of the EU on the enlargement policy on one hand and the progress and shortcomings of the candidate and potential candidate countries on the other. They have a direct impact on a number of aspects of the policy and set the stage for the Union´s approach in the coming period”, reads the joint statement.

It is added the main goal is and remains to adopt the negotiation framework as soon as possible.

“We believe after further analysis that the current text could complicate its adoption down the road. We are convinced that a solution can be found to accommodate the demands of our colleagues without profound implications for the Union´s approach. Furthermore, we are deeply disappointed that the negotiating frameworks for both North Macedonia as well as for Albania have not been approved”, wrote the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.

They also said that Czechia and Slovakia appreciate the efforts made by the German Presidency to achieve progress in the enlargement agenda and that the two countries have always been relentless supporters of the enlargement policy for the past 16 years.

Bulgaria regrets the unexpected blockade

Previously, Bulgaria blocked the Council’s conclusions on enlargement which were supposed to be adopted at the ministerial meeting on December 8, due to a bilateral dispute with North Macedonia.

However, Bulgaria gave its consent on the Council conclusions on enlargement during the COREPER II meeting held on December 16 on which a consensus was reached under the German presidency, announced the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“At Bulgaria’s insistence, a sentence was included in the conclusions about the importance of the treaties of the Republic of North Macedonia with Bulgaria and Greece, and that their implementation will lead to the end of all claims based on misinterpretation of history. During the meeting, the conclusions were approved unanimously”, reads the press release.

Bulgaria regrets that the Council conclusions on Enlargement and the Stabilization and Association Process were unexpectedly blocked by two member states without explanation during the ENVI Council.

“The veto on the Council conclusions risks to undermine the credibility of the EU and prevents the Union from sending much-needed signals to the Western Balkans, namely related to the necessary reforms that the aspiring countries should undertake”, it was concluded in the press release.

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