EU to open accession talks for N. Macedonia, Albania
Concessions, done with French pressure amid the war in Ukraine, have landed the two countries into the possibility of accession.
On Monday, all 27 European Union member states agreed to launch talks with Albania and North Macedonia after Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, resolved disputes with its neighbor, Bulgaria.
According to Czech Republic's Prime Minister Petr Fiala, the EU member states have "just agreed to open accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia!"
"We have taken another important step towards bringing the Western Balkans closer to the EU," Fiala added after a meeting was approved for EU envoys to meet in Brussels.
Edi Rama, the Albanian prime minister, along with his Macedonian counterpart Dimitar Kovacevski, are expected to be in Brussels on Tuesday to formally start the accession talks, which will take years.
On Sunday, the two countries signed a French proposal that would ascend the Macedonian language as an official language of the European Union, in addition to other guarantees.
In recent times, Sofia blocked any initiatives for accession due to a dispute between the countries regarding linguistic and historical issues.
Albania's bid to become a member of the EU was also delayed due to arguments that both countries step forward together at the same time.
France pressured Bulgaria to lift its veto in exchange for EU guarantees that N. Macedonia will meet certain demands on a number of controversial issues.
Read more: N. Macedonia approves compromise for EU membership talks: PM
Around 20 years ago, North Macedonia was designated as a candidate for EU membership, making concessions with Greece in order to join NATO in 2020. Albania, on the other hand, became a candidate for the EU in 2014.
The Balkans skyrocketed in strategic importance when the war in Ukraine started.
Last month, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and the presidents of North Macedonia and Serbia threatened to skip the EU summit in protest of the lack of progress.
The Balkan leaders were highly dissatisfied with their delayed EU ambitions, with Bulgaria preventing discussions with Albania and North Macedonia over a dispute with Skopje.
“It’s a disgrace that a NATO country, Bulgaria, kidnaps two other Nato countries, namely, Albania and North Macedonia, in the midst of hot war in Europe’s backyard with 26 other countries sitting still in a scary show of impotence,” Rama explained.