Albania Repeats It Has Met Condition as Slovenia Eyes WB Countries in Union at Decade’s End

Albania has met the conditions for the first intergovernmental conference and such a thing is accepted by the senior EU officials in Brussels, said the chief negotiator of Albania with the European Union, Zef Mazi in a meeting with the foreign affairs parliamentary committee on Monday.

The agenda of the meeting included questions by the members of the Committee to Mazi on the progress of the EU integration of Albania which has been stalled without any step forward.

"The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, Joseph Borrell and the Commissioner for Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi said that Albania has met the conditions for the first intergovernmental conference. It is understood that in March this year it was again the Macedonian-Bulgarian conflict, but the merit of the countries was emphasized. This is the basis for the expansion of the region,” he said.

According to him, the progress of Albania in the fulfillment of the 15 points presented by the EU have been regularly reported to the Committee and the member states of the Union that have an ambassador to Tirana as well as to Brussels. "Every month we send 11 updated reports on how the work has gone to meet the requirements."

Leaders from all EU member states and the six western Balkan countries of Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia will attend a summit to be held in Slovenia, the holder of the bloc’s presidency, on October 6 this year. Slovenia has stunned fellow member states by proposing ahead of the summit that the EU should expand to include the entire western Balkans by the end of the decade, according to a report carried by the prestigious Financial Times on October 1. “We need a declaration. This is very important,” said one EU diplomat as quoted by FT. “And [one] with a date won’t be accepted.”

Slovenia’s proposal, made in a meeting of ambassadors in Brussels, dumbfounded other member states and was described by some as entirely unrealistic given the economic and political challenges in the region.

Enlargement is a highly sensitive issue for the EU, which is divided over the need and speed at which countries should be allowed into the bloc. But the union is under pressure to proceed with accession talks with Balkan countries that are also courting closer ties with China and Russia.

The EU added 13 member states between 2004 and 2013 in a rapid expansion. After that Jean-Claude Juncker, the former commission president, promised no more admissions until 2019 — but applicant countries are becoming increasingly impatient as Brussels continues to drag its heels.

Ursula von der Leyen, the commission president, has toured the western Balkans ahead of the summit, reiterating her support for countries including Serbia to join the union. But politicians in the region view the topic with acute frustration while appetite for further enlargement is low in a range of bigger member states.

The commission, which leads the process of evaluating progress towards EU membership, has said national governments should move forward with Albania and North Macedonia “as soon as possible”. The two countries should have started EU membership talks last year, but progress remains blocked by the lack of unanimous support from member states.

Slovenia’s government declined to comment. North Macedonia, one of the countries seeking accession, said it welcomed the push Slovenia was giving to talks and said it was “time for the EU to deliver”. / Argumentum.al