Prospects for EU accession: The meeting in the Western Balkans ends without progress

Status: 23.06.2022 15:31

The EU summit with the Western Balkans ended without any progress. Accession talks with Northern Macedonia and Albania are thus still blocked, despite the promotion of Chancellor Scholz.

EU countries have concluded consultations with the six Western Balkan countries that wanted to join, without concrete results. According to EU circles, there were “open discussions” after almost four hours of consultations in Brussels. However, no progress has been made towards opening accession negotiations with Albania and Northern Macedonia and deciding on visa liberalization for Kosovo, she said.

The press conference, originally scheduled after consultations with EU Council President Charles Michel, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, was canceled due to time constraints.

Already before the meeting, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama expressed his frustration with inaction. “It is a shame that NATO countries are holding two other NATO countries hostage,” he said of the Bulgarian blockade. The other 26 EU countries showed a “scary show of impotence”.

Scholz’s advertisement and Macron’s compromise without success

Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz insisted in vain on clearing the way for accession talks. The government in Sofia is demanding that Northern Macedonia recognize Bulgaria’s roots in its language and history, as well as the rights of the Bulgarian minority, before opening EU accession negotiations.

Even the French compromise proposal did not bring any convergence. The situation was complicated by the fact that Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov fell on Wednesday due to a vote of no confidence.

Referring to the geostrategic importance of the Western Balkans and the influence of Russia and China, Chancellor Scholz insisted on the rapid rapprochement of the six Balkan states with the EU. “Germany will support the activities of the Western Balkans on their way to the EU,” he said in Brussels. Countries must finally get the feeling that their reform efforts are rewarded.

The differences between the countries of the Western Balkans are becoming increasingly clear

The differences between the six countries of the Western Balkans, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Albania, Northern Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, all at different stages of rapprochement with the EU, have also been felt in Brussels. Kosovo President Vyos Osmani-Sadria has criticized Serbia, which still does not want to recognize the former province as independent.

Only those countries that support EU sanctions against Russia should move forward in EU accession negotiations. This is not the case in Serbia, for example. Osmani-Sadriu emphasized that her country’s only option was to join the EU. It is not possible to focus on both the EU and Moscow, she added with reference to Serbia.

Serbia does not support EU sanctions

Serbia has not joined the EU’s sanctions on Moscow for attacking Ukraine. Chancellor Scholz has repeatedly warned the government in Belgrade that candidates for EU membership are expected to share EU foreign policy. Serbian President Alexander Vucic warned in Brussels that his government strongly supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity. But some EU states do not even respect Serbia, he said, referring to Kosovo.

A regular two-day EU summit of the 27 EU Heads of State and Government begins in Brussels in the afternoon. According to EU Council President Charles Michel, the status of an EU candidate country should be decided for Ukraine and Moldova. Georgia, on the other hand, has only to gain a “European perspective” without official candidate status.

No progress in the Western Balkans negotiations in Brussels

Helga Schmidt, WDR Brussels, 23 June 2022 16:13

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