“Germany supports EU Presidency’s objective to hold first accession conferences with both Albania and North Macedonia in June,” has said Germany’s European Affairs Minister, Michael Roth, who was backed by Slovak Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok. Both ministers appealed to the EU to pursue the original scheme according to which eventual membership of Albania and North Macedonia is part of one package.
Such calls came on Friday after Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi’s suggested that the EU consider starting talks only with Albania in June if North Macedonia’s path is still blocked by neighbouring Bulgaria over their dispute about history and identity, according to euronews.com.
But Roth wrote on twitter on Friday as following: “Germany supports EU Presidency’s objective to hold first accession conferences with both Albania and North Macedonia in June. Both countries have delivered on required reforms – now EU has to deliver, too. Further delay undermines EU credibility, stability in the region.”
Slovak Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok tweeted along the same lines: “Credible EU enlargement policy is now about abandoning the [Bulgarian] veto in the Council, which has to recognize progress made by North Macedonia and Albania.”
During his visit to the region this week, where he visited both Skopje and Tirana Varhelyi suggested separating the two aspirant countries.
Asked if formally “disjointing” the two countries was an option, he replied: “It might be an option, yes.”
North Macedonia voiced disappointment with this idea.
“The overwhelming majority of EU member states support having IGCs [Inter-Governmental Conferences] with both Albania and North Macedonia,” the Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs, Nikola Dimitrov, commented.
He added that whether the EU will keep its promise to North Macedonia represented “a test for the EU’s credibility in the Western Balkans”.
Originally, Albania and North Macedonia were set to begin membership talks together, but in 2019 France and The Netherlands blocked the process, primarily querying Albania’s preparedness, and insisting on revising the EU’s enlargement strategy before launching talks with any would-be members.
All depends if North Macedonia can reach any agreement with Bulgaria.
No statement on this issue has been made by Albanian authorities but it is apparent its nervesness about the dragging of the process of opening the first intergovernmental session of the talks with the EU. /argumentum.al