Green light to the Balkans
BSSB.BE intellinews.com 28.06.2018
Balkans Danube Ex-USSR
* The European Council decided on June 26 to give a cautious green light for Macedonia and Albania to start accession talks, pending progress on reforms prior to the launch of negotiations next year.
The decision to open a path towards launching accession talks in June 2019 was made by EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg, even though some EU members, such as Denmark, France and the Netherlands, expressed concern over corruption and the rule of law in the two countries. EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn urged the bloc a day earlier to allow Skopje and Tirana to start membership talks, stressing the importance of giving a positive signal to the whole Western Balkan region.
Governments in the two countries had expected to obtain a firm date to launch accession talks this year.
- The Council underlinedthat critical for Macedonia is to continue making concrete progress on the Urgent Reform Priorities and to deliver further tangible results in the fight against corruption.
- For Macedonia, the Council underlined that the assessment of progress should include sustained results, focusing on judicial reforms, prosecutions and final convictions in corruption and organised crime cases, including high level ones, intelligence and security services reform as well as reform in the public administration.
- The Council recalled that the decision to open accession negotiations with Macedonia will be subject to completion of national parliamentary procedures and the endorsement by the European Council, and swiftly thereafter be followed by the first intergovernmental conference by the end of 2019, depending on progress made.
The Council strongly welcomed the signing of the name agreement with Greece and looks forward to its ratification and implementation.
On June 20, the Macedonian parliament ratified the name deal with Greece which sets a new name for the country — Republic of North Macedonia — and which was expected to unblock the Euro-Atlantic integration processes. Greece so far has blocked Macedonia’s entry to the EU and Nato due to the unresolved issue; Athens objected to the use of the name “Macedonia” as it has a region with the same name.
“Another great day for the Republic of Macedonia. Another great recognition for our country,” the government said in a statement following the announcement.
For Albania, the European foreign ministers decided that it is crucial to further consolidate progress made on judicial reforms in particular through the vetting process, and to deliver tangible results in the fight against corruption and organised crime, in particular on the cultivation and trafficking of drugs.
The decision is expected to be confirmed by EU leaders at the EU summit on June 28-29.
Hahn said that the decision means that the screening process can start immediately.
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