Albania and North Macedonia are getting closer to the European Union | Abroad

The 27 member states of the European Union agreed to start accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. They did so the day after North Macedonia agreed to a compromise in the conflict with neighboring Bulgaria.

Parliament in Skopje gave the green light to the framework of negotiations with the European Union. This framework also includes a settlement of the conflict with neighboring Bulgaria. North Macedonians are obligated to recognize the Bulgarian minority in their country in the constitution and to take other measures to protect minority rights. One of the last obstacles to starting accession negotiations was the lack of a compromise.

“We have taken another important step to bring the countries of the Western Balkans closer to the European Union,” Czech Prime Minister Petr Viala said on Twitter after a meeting on the subject in Brussels. The Czech Republic currently holds the presidency of the European Union. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and his North Macedonian counterpart Dimitar Kovasevski are expected to arrive in Brussels on Tuesday. After that, negotiations will officially begin, which will take years.

Bulgarian veto

Macedonia has been a candidate country since 2005 and has been waiting for negotiations to start since 2008. For years, Greece has blocked any rapprochement, until 2018 the small neighboring country agreed to change its name from Macedonia to North Macedonia. After the Greek veto, came the Bulgarian, who also wanted to negotiate concessions in terms of language, history, and protection of minorities.

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Bulgarian protest also blocked the candidacy of Albania, which had been a candidate since 2014. In the end, under pressure from France, the former president of the European Union, Bulgaria decided to drop its veto in exchange for some concessions.

Denton Watson

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