US Department of State: We support the opening of accession talks with Skopje and Tirana without delay

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WASHINGTON – US State Department spokesman Ned Price tweeted that his country supported the opening of EU membership negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania without delay.

“We support the opening without delay of EU accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. We are engaging at the highest levels of government to demonstrate our commitment to aspirants’ European paths, ”Price tweeted.

The General Affairs Council of the European Union meets on 22 June, with an exchange of views on enlargement and the stabilization and association process on the agenda.

The Council officially opened accession negotiations with the two countries in March 2020. The next step is for the EU to adopt the negotiating frameworks with the two countries and to organize the first intergovernmental conferences.

The European Commission presented the draft negotiating frameworks for Albania and North Macedonia to the Council on 1 July 2020. It said the two countries were ready to take the next step in its October annual reports. .

However, the process is at an impasse, due to the Bulgarian government’s veto on negotiations with North Macedonia. Ideas of decoupling the two countries and letting Albania move forward were launched, but were not approved by any official.

Macron: North Macedonia deserves to start membership negotiations

The Prime Minister of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev met yesterday in Paris with French President Emmanuel Macron, the main initiator of the postponement of the opening of accession talks in 2019. The French president however now says he is in favor of the opening of negotiations .

“The European Union decided in March last year to start negotiations with your country and now is the time to make this decision a reality and France actively supports it. North Macedonia deserves to start negotiations without delay. I am personally involved in finding a solution with Bulgaria, ”President Macron said in a statement before the working dinner, the government of North Macedonia reported on its website.

Zoran Zaev and Emmanuel Macron in Paris; Photo: Government of North Macedonia

Prime Minister Zaev expressed his special gratitude to President Macron.

“It is very important for us that France supports the process of integrating North Macedonia into the EU, with clearly defined standards and without wasting time. Ahead of us is the June European Council summit, which is a real opportunity for a step forward and a solution that will lift the blockade on our European path, ”said Zaev.

He stressed that the solutions proposed by the Portuguese Presidency constitute a good basis and that the country is ready for a bilateral dialogue which will lead to a reasonable and mutually acceptable agreement within the framework of the Friendship and Good Neighbor Agreement with the Bulgaria, stressing that issues of Macedonian language and identity can not be at the negotiating table.

Dutch government ready to support start of accession negotiations

Two letters from the Dutch government to parliament show that during the General Affairs Council on 22 June, the government intends to support the adoption of negotiating frameworks and the planning of intergovernmental conferences with North Macedonia and Albania, tweeted Wouter Zweers, researcher at Clingendael – the Dutch Institute for International Relations. Parliament will debate the issue on June 16.

According to Zweers, the government wrote that it approved the Commission’s conclusion that Albania has now made sufficient progress on these conditions.

“… As part of the government’s strict and fair approach to EU enlargement, the first IGC with Albania can take place as far as the government is concerned once the negotiating framework has been agreed” , wrote Zweers.

Over the past two years, the Netherlands has expressed clear reservations about continuing membership negotiations with Albania and was, along with France, one of the few countries that prevented the decision to open EU membership negotiations in October 2019, provoking significant backlash from EU officials.





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