The European Union will begin accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia on Tuesday after five years of delays, blockades and vetoes. On Monday, Coreper, the ambassadors of the 27 in Brussels, finally reached an agreement to start talks immediately, starting with an Intergovernmental Conference at the highest level.

The President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, will meet with the Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama, and his counterpart Dimitar Kovaevski, and will appear together with the Czech Prime Minister, Petr Fiala, to stage the flag for a process that must lead to evaluate the capacity of both applicants to assume the acquis communautaire. A process, however, that can still take many years and that requires total unanimity.

“It is a historic moment,” celebrated the Czech ambassador, Edita Hrda, whose country has chaired the EU Council since July 1. “Historic: Coreper has just unanimously approved the start of accession negotiations. The Intergovernmental Conferences will start tomorrow morning. The enlargement policy returns to normal with Europe rediscovering its self-confidence”, added the ambassador Lithuanian, Arnoldas Pranckevicius.

The last few weeks have been very intense on the continent. In May, Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova formally called for talks to start, and when the European Council gave their aspirations the green light just a few days ago, granting candidate country status (not to Georgia yet, but hopefully soon), the who have been on the waiting list for years, got angry. Albania applied for EU membership in April 2009 and received candidate status in June 2014. North Macedonia, for its part, was declared a candidate country in December 2005 but the blockade has been perpetual, first by Greece. and after Bulgaria, for questions of names, languages ​​and languages.

At the last Summit in Brussels, the leaders of both countries were very harsh with the institutions and the 27 capitals, accusing them of double standards, discrimination, cowardice and lack of vision. His criticisms were public, aggressive, and forced the EU to rectify, assume that it had to respond and change the pace. Everything was pending what happened in Bulgaria, where a government on the verge of collapse was unable to take the initiative to lift the veto to Parliament. For months France had been acting as a mediator and put on the table a controversial proposal, reviled both in Skopje and Tirana, and in Sofia. But a proposal that has ended up going ahead.

The opposition in Macedonia has filled the streets and boycotted the vote, but this Monday its Parliament has approved, with 68 votes in favor of a total of 120, the French plan that will allow negotiations to begin. In return, the country will amend the constitution to recognize the existence and rights of the Bulgarian minority (3,500 people in a population of just under three million) and will accept an annual review by Brussels of relations with Sofia. The problem is that the constitutional change requires a majority of two thirds, and right now the accounts do not come out.

“After so many years of waiting with the candidate status, with nothing happening, the final vote in the Parliament of North Macedonia has opened a door. And tomorrow, the intergovernmental conference will launch the negotiation process, a long-awaited process. This is good news. We don’t have much good news, this is one of them. I hope this increases our commitment to the Balkans”, said the High Representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, before starting a meeting with all the ministers community of the branch.

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