Bulgaria ‘regrets’ EU ministers’ delay on decision on accession talks with North Macedonia, Albania

Bulgaria ‘regrets’ EU ministers’ delay on decision on accession talks with North Macedonia, Albania

Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva said on June 18 that she regrets that it had not been possible for EU foreign ministers to make a decision on starting accession negotiations with the Republic of North Macedonia and with Albania.

Zaharieva was quoted in a Foreign Ministry statement after a meeting of EU foreign ministers, in general affairs council format, postponed a decision on the matter to “no later than October”.

She said that she believed that the decision would happen “in October at the latest because we have to respond adequately to the efforts made by both sides to implement of the necessary reforms”.

“We support the launch of membership negotiations with the two countries in meeting the criteria. Neighbourhood relations and the implementation of the Neighbourhood Treaty remain a priority for us to start negotiations, the implementation of which we will keep track of,” Zaharieva said.

The general affairs council’s conclusions, adopted at the June 18 meeting, said that reaffirming its conclusions of June 26 2018, the council “strongly welcomes” the historic and unprecedented Prespa Agreement, and the Treaty on Good Neighbourly Relations with Bulgaria, and takes good note of the Commission’s recommendation to open accession negotiations with the Republic of North Macedonia based on its positive evaluation of the progress made and of the fulfillment of the conditions identified by the Council.

“In light of the limited time available and the importance of the matter, the Council will revert to the issue with a view to reaching a clear and substantive decision as soon as possible and no later than October,” it said.

The conclusions used the same sentence in regard to Albania, after saying that “reaffirming its conclusions of 26 June 2018, the Council takes good note of the Commission’s recommendation to open accession negotiations with Albania based on its positive evaluation of the progress made and of the fulfillment of the conditions identified by the Council”.

Some EU member states are wary about further enlargement of the EU, while in regard to starting accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, Germany will require a mandate from its legislature.

On June 11 2019, 13 foreign ministers – from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Poland, Slovakia – called for the opening of accession negotiations with the Republic of North Macedonia and Albania in June 2019./ibna

(Photo, of Zaharieva, centre, at the general affairs council meeting on June 18: Bulgarian Foreign Ministry)