0_Web_Editor's choice0_Web_Top storiesBalkansBalkans.portalEuropeEurope.portalSvet.Slajder

Scholz: Western Balkans efforts ‘must lead to EU accession’

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said "the many efforts that have been made by [the Western Balkan] states must lead to accession," ahead of a meeting of European Union leaders with their Western Balkan counterparts in Brussels.

Brussels, 23 June 2022 (dpa/MIA) — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said “the many efforts that have been made by [the Western Balkan] states must lead to accession,” ahead of a meeting of European Union leaders with their Western Balkan counterparts in Brussels.

“For almost 20 years, the countries and the citizens of the Western Balkans have been waiting for the opportunity to become members of the European Union,” Scholz said.

Scholz mentioned that North Macedonia had even changed its name in the hope of becoming a member of the European Union.

He said that Germany “will feel responsible” for making sure that Western Balkan countries have the “opportunity to actually successfully implement their European prospects.”

Scholz added that it’s of “utmost importance that this becomes a credible promise” amid growing frustration among the region’s leaders.

The leaders of the three Western Balkan states Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia are attending the summit in Brussels despite earlier considering a boycott.

“We’ll attend the EU Council meeting,” Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “There won’t be much to hear about us,” he wrote in English, but the West Balkan countries will want to be heard on how they had been treated by Bulgaria, he wrote.

The three had been angered by the threat of a veto by EU member Bulgaria, which has been blocking the start of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania for several years.

Bulgaria was “kidnapping” the West Balkan states, Rama wrote, and “destroying” the spirit of Europe.

Sofia is demanding as a precondition for the accession talks with North Macedonia that they also discuss issues of “common history,” language and national identity.

North Macedonia’s President Stevo Pendarovski told Skopje-based TV24 on Tuesday evening that “it is unacceptable that historical issues and language disputes are included in the negotiating framework with the EU.”

The Western Balkan countries, which also include Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and Montenegro, are at different stages of the application process to join the EU.

The EU-Western Balkans leaders summit comes directly before a separate meeting of EU leaders, where they will discuss granting EU candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova.

Back to top button
Close