The EU agrees to open negotiations for the entry of North Macedonia and Albania. Tirana applied for EU membership in April 2009 and received candidate status in June 2014. Skopje, meanwhile, was declared a candidate country in December 2005, after requesting it in 2004. The head of European diplomacy , Josep Borrell, said this Monday at the EU Foreign Council: “We have unblocked the start of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. This is a historic moment, after so many years of waiting with the candidate status, with nothing happening, the final vote in the Parliament of North Macedonia has opened a door. And tomorrow [por este martes], the intergovernmental conference will launch the negotiation process, a long-awaited process. This are good news. We don’t have much good news, this is good news. I hope this will increase our commitment to the Balkans.”
Indeed, the ambassadors of the 27 to the EU –COREPER– have agreed this Monday afternoon “to open accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania”, EU Council sources explain: “Both countries will be invited to start meetings Intergovernmental meetings in Brussels tomorrow”.
Thus, this Tuesday the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, will make a public statement accompanied by the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, the country that chairs the Council of the EU this semester, Petr Fiala; the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama; and the Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Dimitar Kovačevski, on the start of the accession negotiations process.
At the last summit on June 23, it was not possible to take this step because the Bulgarian blockade persisted, claiming that North Macedonia has a common history, identity and language with Sofia. However, both countries reached an agreement ratified by the Bulgarian Parliament. And, as the processes in North Macedonia and Albania have gone hand in hand, they have been unblocked hand in hand.
At that summit, the Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama, exploded before the closed door of the 27: “I have asked them to please not allow the European Union to become a congregation of priests who discuss the sex of angels while the walls of Constantinople are falling apart.”
Rama, furthermore, has advised the Ukrainians not to “have their hopes up” because the accession process will be very long.
“North Macedonia has been a candidate for 16 years and Albania for eight, so welcome to Ukraine,” he joked upon arrival at the summit.
As much as the procedures have been twisted to speed up the path of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia due to their proximity to Russia, Brussels is aware that it cannot be too unfair to those who were already in the queue before.
For example, Albania applied for EU membership in April 2009 and received candidate status in June 2014. North Macedonia, for its part, was declared a candidate country in December 2005, while Montenegro applied for membership. into the EU in December 2008 and received candidate status in December 2010. Serbia, in turn, applied for candidate country status in December 2009 and was granted in March 2012.
And then there is the case of Turkey, declared a candidate country in December 1999.
In addition, there are the potential candidate countries, which have a prospect of joining the EU in the future but have not yet obtained candidate country status.
This is the case of Bosnia-Herzegovina, for example, a country with which negotiations were opened in September 2005, which submitted its request to join the EU in February 2016. In September 2016, the Council invited the Commission to deliver an opinion on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s application. The Commission adopted its negative opinion on May 29, 2019.
But it is also the case of Kosovo, with which the EU has a Stabilization and Association Agreement in force since April 2016.