Eurasia Review: Germany Deals Blow To Albania, North Macedonia EU Hopes

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By Sinisa Jakov Marusic

The German parliament on Thursday approved the NATO accession
protocol with North Macedonia – but did not discuss supporting the
launch of EU accession talks either with North Macedonia or Albania.

Without
such a decision from the Bundestag, the German government cannot
approve the opening of accession talks with the two aspiring member
countries at the European Council later this month, in June 18.

This
means that the earliest possible date for this to happen would be in
September, after the Bundestag returns from its summer recess.

The stalling in Berlin
will add to the concerns of the governments in Skopje and Tirana, who
also have to deal with the enlargement skepticism of France, The
Netherlands and some other EU countries.

Both countries had been hoping for a firm date to start membership talks.

North
Macedonia Prime Minister Zoran Zaev earlier this week in Brussels
warned that if no decision was made to start accession talks this year,
it could jeopardize his pro-European government and boost the more
euro-skeptic right-wing forces in the country who were ousted from power
two years ago in 2017.

The EU “will either support this
progressive, pro-European option, or those who have been blocking these
processes and who have been tagged as radical, nationalist or
pro-Russian. The disappointment among our citizens if the EC fails to
grant a positive opinion will give hope to the latter forces,” Zaev
said.

The European Commission in May recommended the EU to open membership talks with North Macedonia and Albania – but the left a decision on the actual date to the European Council in June.

Its
report praised Zaev’s government for striking a historic deal with
Greece last summer on ending the long dispute over Macedonia’s name, as
well as engaging in other reforms designed to unlock the country’s
stalled Euro-Atlantic bid.

“No matter what will happen, we did
everything we could. I would like our [EU] partners to know that we have
been waiting for 15 years [for a date] and that now, everything is
possible,” Zaev said.

Eurasia Review


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