The European Union, which gave the green light to full membership status for Ukraine and Moldova, failed to deliver the expected news to Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania, who have been waiting to start accession negotiations for almost 20 years. The leaders of the three Balkan countries whose “membership negotiations have not started due to Bulgaria’s veto” said they welcomed Ukraine’s expected progress but were “seriously disappointed that their negotiations had not started almost 20 years after the final pledge “.
European Union leaders gathered in Brussels to discuss the project to give Ukraine and Moldova ‘candidate country’ status, EU enlargement and the future of Europe. European Council President Charles Michel said: “On a geopolitical level, this Council of Europe will be a historic moment. “Today will be a day that will affect the future of the EU, our stability and security,” he said.
Ahead of the summit, which was attended by 27 EU member states and heads of government, EU leaders first met with the leaders of 6 Western Balkan countries. North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania, which have the status of “candidate countries” to the EU, as well as Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, which have the status of “potential candidate countries”, attended the meeting. At the summit, EU leaders and Western Balkans administrators discussed the “start of accession negotiations” between North Macedonia and Albania and Serbia.
Disappointment of the Balkan countries
At the entrance to the meeting, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama pointed out that his country has been waiting for the start of accession negotiations for 18 years and said: “I advise Ukrainians not to have any illusions about the status of a candidate country, which will be granted to them EU. Because the registration process will take a long time. It’s good to give Ukraine a status, I’m not saying anything, but I hope the Ukrainian people won’t be too disappointed,” he said.
When no consensus could be reached in the four-hour discussions at the EU-Western Balkans summit, EU Council President Charles Michel, French President Emmanuel Macron and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen canceled the planned press conference due to “lack of time”. This time however, the 3 Balkan leaders openly expressed their anger with harsh facial expressions in front of the cameras at the meeting.
Awaiting the start of accession negotiations today, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, Serbian President Alexander Vucic and North Macedonian Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski protested against this stance in a joint press conference. After the talks, the leaders of the three Balkan countries said they welcomed Ukraine’s expected progress, but were seriously disappointed that “nearly twenty years after the final commitment, their negotiations have not started or the negotiations that have started have not been completed.” . .
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama sarcastically expressed his dissatisfaction with years of deadlock on enlargement, saying: “The EU is incapable of rescuing two hostages. Especially in a war context, it doesn’t make a good impression. I feel sorry for the EU, I hope we can help you. An epidemic, even an impending war, could not unite them. Enlargement has evolved from a shared vision of the community to a hostage-taking of individual states. Europe is a beautiful place, beautiful people, beautiful pictures, beautiful words. But it would be better if they gave up our right. One day we will be good members of the EU,” Rama added, “if not soon then maybe in the next century.”
Kovachevski said Bulgaria’s veto was “a blow to the EU’s credibility” and stressed that his country had been stuck in a waiting room for 18 years. “We cannot get stuck in this situation because no single country can cross the barrier,” Kovachevsky said. “We must not allow bilateral issues to become multilateral issues,” he said. He said France’s compromise proposal was unacceptable.
“Next Summit” sign by the Bulgarian Prime Minister
The criticized Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov also indicated in his statement that Bulgaria had no chance at this EU summit to lift its veto against North Macedonia, but that a solution could be near in the next few days. More so despite losing the vote of no confidence in Parliament on Wednesday
Serbian President Aleksander Vucic also stated that the “Open Balkans” initiative was an idea between the three countries and was not subject to any external influence, and he particularly rejected pressure from Russia or Hungary. While Vucic doesn’t share the same disappointments with Albania and North Macedonia, he said he hopes to find a solution to the difficult situation, using more optimistic language.
The EU administration criticizes it; “Economy for the Western Balkans”
Proposal of the European Political Community
At the summit dinner, EU leaders will discuss the decision to grant candidate country status to Ukraine and Moldova, the EU’s enlargement perspective and French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal for a different enlargement model, the “European Political Community”. “. Almost four months after the Russian army invaded its territory, Ukraine is awaiting the green light on Thursday for the status of a “candidate country” by European Union leaders.
EU leaders are expected to take a positive decision on the candidacy of Ukraine and Moldova. President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal for the “European Political Community” (AST).
In order to be able to say “yes”, Poland and the Baltic States wanted to write in the final declaration that “AST will not be an alternative to EU membership or an enlargement process”.