Sunday

18th Aug 2019

EU paths fork for Albania and North Macedonia

  • North Macedonia prime minister Zoran Zaev (l) said Germany had pledged to give green light in September (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

Germany will agree to open EU accession talks with North Macedonia in September, Skopje has said, but Albania's prospects look less bright.

"We are convinced that North Macedonia will start negotiations with the EU this year," Macedonian prime minister Zoran Zaev said in a statement on Thursday (13 June) after meeting German leader Angela Merkel in Berlin.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"Chancellor Merkel informed us that the Bundestag will make a decision in September to approve the start of EU negotiations with North Macedonia in line with Germany's confirmed enlargement procedures," he added.

The German statement on the meeting was less outspoken, saying only that the two leaders had discussed "foreign and European policy issues" and praising North Macedonia's recent name deal with Greece.

Skopje had hoped that EU states' ministers meeting in a General Affairs Council next week would already give the green light in line with a European Commission recommendation.

But that was made impossible after the Bundestag put off its decision on the issue until after the summer recess.

"Germany can't take the decision because it hasn't been able to do its parliamentary procedure. Probably at the earliest, thus will happen in September," an EU diplomat said.

The EU Council president, Donald Tusk, summed up the situation while meeting Macedonian president Stevo Pendarovski in Brussels on Wednesday.

"Your country has delivered all the right political signals that the EU was expecting from the candidates. You have done everything that was expected of you," he said.

"But I want to be honest with you: not all member states are prepared to make the decision on opening negotiations in the coming days," Tusk added.

The German delay comes amid wider enlargement-scepticism in Denmark, France, and the Netherlands.

Dutch MPs, on Wednesday, voted against a resolution to block North Macedonia accession this year.

But 105 out of 150 of them did back one to block Albania talks due to concerns about organised crime and corruption, even though the EU commission had also given Tirana the green light.

"Given that Albania is not achieving sufficient tangible results [in the fight against crime], parliament calls on the Dutch government not to agree with the commission's proposal," the resolution said.

"This doesn't leave much room for interoperation," the EU diplomat added, on Albania's chances of getting an EU consensus to start talks any time soon.

But Albanian police, also on Wednesday, tried to polish the country's image by announcing they had broken up a gang of human traffickers who were smuggling migrants into the EU.

The Turkish-led group had trafficked Iraqi, Turkish, and Syrian nationals via Greece, Albania, and Montenegro into Croatia, the police said.

The EU's Frontex border control agency, which began patrolling the Albanian-Greek border from 22 May had already intercepted 229 irregular migrants there, the Albanian police noted, according to the Reuters news agency.

EU split on Western Balkans accession

Europe's credibility is at risk in the Western Balkans, half its member states have warned - but EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said Albania and North Macedonia unlikely to start accession talks soon.

EU delays Macedonia and Albania talks

Accession talks to start in 2019, not this year as hoped, after France, Denmark and Netherlands force delay despite breakthrough on Macedonia name dispute.

Tensions mount over Kosovo-Serbia deal

Serbia will never recognise Kosovo, Serbia's foreign minister has said, as the Western Balkans heads into a new period of turbulence.

News in Brief

  1. Trump turned down: Greenland not for sale
  2. UK Libdems would back Clarke or Harman as new PM
  3. Six countries agree to take 'Open Arms' ship migrants
  4. Gibraltar judge: Iranian ship should be released
  5. Increasing fears of a global recession
  6. Far-right hate crimes on the rise in Germany
  7. EU steel tariffs have 'worked well' so far
  8. Italian court: Migrant rescue ship can enter Italian waters

Opinion

EU report recognises Albania's achievements

Albania currently faces a serious crisis, which it would be foolish for all actors in the international community to ignore. Yet we must ask that our partners in Europe read Federica Mogherini's report carefully and recognise accomplishments.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings
  2. EU asked to solve migrant rescue deadlock
  3. Internal EU paper: Second Brexit vote was no longer 'distant dream'
  4. EU has 'zero incentive' to break open 'trilogue' deals
  5. Denmark plans import ban on EU-approved pesticide
  6. US offers Johnson helping hand on Brexit
  7. Italy: New government without Salvini in the making
  8. Brexit row delays financial products transparency review

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us