Western Balkans: Czech Republic, Slovakia block enlargement conclusions, marking a defeat for Bulgaria

Western Balkans: Czech Republic, Slovakia block enlargement conclusions, marking a defeat for Bulgaria

The German Presidency has recorded yet another failure, after the EU Member States will be closing the year without adopting conclusions, for the first time since the introduction of the annual enlargement conclusions.

The Czech Republic and Slovakia issued today a joint statement expressing their disagreement with the EU Presidency conclusions on enlargement submitted by the German Presidency, stating that the text as it stands contains elements, including the notion of falsification of history.

“Given the key role of this document and upon careful consideration we were unable to give our consent to the draft presented for approval today. The text as it stands contained elements including the notion of falsifying history that in our view would be hugely detrimental to the enlargement process and could potentially bring about further complications down the road,” the statement notes.

They add that they would not allow the Union to be the judge of ” our shared history, how we identify ourselves or the language we use.”

“These issues belong to the parties concerned and we are here to support them with the experience of our own healing processes.”

“The Council conclusions on enlargement, stabilization and association proces need to convey a united message of the EU on the enlargement policy on one hand and the progress and shortcomings of the candidate and potentially candidate countries on the other. They have a direct impact on a number of aspects of the policy and set the stage for the Union´s approach in the coming period.”

It is added that the main goal is and remains the approval of the negotiating framework as soon as possible.

“we believe after further analysis that the current text could complicate its adoption down the road. We are convinced that a solution can be found to accommodate the demands of our colleagues without profound implications for the Union’s approach.”

“Furthermore, we are deeply disappointed that the negotiating frameworks for both North Macedonia as well as for Albania have not been approved,” the Czech and Slovak Foreign Ministers stress in a joint statement.

They also said that the Czech Republic and Slovakia appreciate the efforts made by the German Presidency to make progress on the enlargement agenda and that the two countries have always been supporters of enlargement policy for the last 16 years.

Bulgaria regrets unexpected veto

Earlier, Bulgaria blocked the Council’s conclusions on enlargement, which were due to be approved at a ministerial meeting on December 8th, due to a bilateral dispute with North Macedonia.

However, Bulgaria gave its consent to the Council conclusions on enlargement during the COREPER II meeting held on 16 December, for which a consensus was reached under the German Presidency, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said.

“At Bulgaria’s insistence, a sentence was included in the conclusions about the importance of the treaties of the Republic of North Macedonia with Bulgaria and Greece, and that their implementation will lead to the end of all claims based on misinterpretation of history. During the meeting, the conclusions were approved unanimously,” the press release notes.

Bulgaria regrets that the Council conclusions on Enlargement and the Stabilization and Association Process were unexpectedly blocked by two member states without explanation during today’s ENVI Council.

“The veto on the Council conclusions risks to undermine the credibility of the EU and prevents the Union from sending much-needed signals to the Western Balkans, namely related to the necessary reforms that the aspiring countries should undertake,” the statement adds. /ibna