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Monday, June 27, 2022
HomeLatest NewsBalkan leaders express dissatisfaction with blocking EU enlargement

Balkan leaders express dissatisfaction with blocking EU enlargement

Date: June 27, 2022 9:47 pm

The difference between irony and sarcasm depends on the intent of the speaker, and it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish one resource from another, but there is no doubt about the mood that Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama’s tweets exude, a disappointment shared by the leaders of the six Balkan countries who gathered today for a summit in Brussels with their colleagues from the European Union, a meeting in which several countries briefly decided not to participate due to lack of prospects.

“Waiting for Godot? No, we are accustomed to this farce and more than ever we want our countries to develop and modernize our region in an unwavering European spirit,” Rama wrote before the meeting, along with a photo with his colleague from North Macedonia. Dimitar Kovachevski, two candidate countries that have been waiting for the same number of years for Bulgaria to lift the veto at the beginning of the accession negotiations. “Beautiful place, nice people, kind words… Imagine how good it would be if beautiful promises were followed by good results,” he commented on a family photo taken by the leaders of both blocs in the iconic Council building at the end of the summit.

“Waiting for Godot? No, we are used to this farce,” says Albanian leader

Bulgaria’s attempts to temporarily lift its veto at the start of accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia, motivated by bilateral ethnic issues with the latter, failed, and the European Union today finds itself empty-handed in the face of half a dozen Balkan countries that have been at one stage or another for decades. aspired to join the club and are now discovering that Ukraine and Georgia will soon receive candidate status. “It’s better not to have any illusions,” Rama advised the Ukrainians. “North Macedonia has been a candidate for 17 years and Albania for 8 years, so welcome to Ukraine…”

Serbia, for its part, started accession talks in 2014, but the process made little progress due to friction with Pristina and, in its opinion, a lack of will on the part of the EU, which, on the other hand, is suspicious of withdrawing from participation. in the international isolation of Russia after the war in Ukraine. Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina are finally still waiting for their EU candidate status to be recognized. European Council President Charles Michel intended to use this summit to “inject energy” into the enlargement process, which is even more relevant in the midst of the war in Ukraine, as they now say in Brussels, but the road is full of obstacles.

Kosovo warns that other players will use the space left free by the EU to influence the region

“This is a serious blow to the credibility of the EU, we are wasting time that we don’t have,” complained the Prime Minister of North Macedonia in a press speech, along with his counterparts from Albania and Serbia, who were frankly “dissatisfied” with the situation. situation. “It’s time for the EU to fulfill its promises before making new ones,” Kovachevsky said of the concession of the candidate country to Ukraine.

“I feel sorry for the EU, I feel sorry for him. I hope we can help,” said Rama as an introduction, before unambiguously assessing the current moment. “It’s a divided house, it’s very disturbing”… “Let’s be honest, the problem is not only in Bulgaria. The spirit of expansion has gone from a shared vision to a kidnapping machine,” he said of Albania and North Macedonia’s status as Sofia’s “hostages”.

The speeches in the press by the leaders of Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia showed that relations between the Balkan neighbors are also not optimal. Rama, for example, embarrassed his Serbian colleague by saying that Vladimir Putin has “80 percent popularity” in his country and by the lack of enthusiasm of his public opinion towards Brussels. However, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić thought it was a “good summit”.

Metsola: Enlargement is a way to strengthen the “geopolitical security of the EU”.

In the middle of the week, the leaders of Albania and Serbia briefly considered not participating in today’s summit; they did, although they made it clear that they expected “nothing” from the meeting. Kosovo’s President Vyosa Osmani-Sadriu has warned that if the EU leaves room for “other actors”, it is clear that “they will use it” to try to exert influence. In addition to Russia, China and Turkey have also strengthened their positions in the region.

Discussions between the leaders behind closed doors were “frank and direct,” European diplomatic sources explained. Be that as it may, the meeting took longer than necessary and President Charles Michel decided at the last minute to cancel the press conference he was going to propose after the summit along with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and French President Emmanuel Macron reported on the progress of the talks . Diplomatic sources from the Balkan region lingered among the journalists, expressing their disappointment and dissatisfaction with this annulment, which the EU justified on the grounds of the agenda, as the European Council was next to begin.

Despite the kind words, European leaders are aware that the situation is problematic. “With the Western Balkans, we are not where we should be. Today we have to start negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia and I cannot hide my disappointment,” said Josep, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Vice President of the European Commission. Borrell, who once again advocated limiting the right to veto foreign policy decisions in order to avoid such situations. Borrell is studying formulas for regularly inviting the heads of diplomacy of these countries to the monthly meetings of EU foreign ministers.

These are the kind of community outreach initiatives that European leaders have discussed with their Balkan counterparts, who are hoping for tangible measures such as visa liberalization and trade facilitation. The draft conclusions of the summit, which began this afternoon in Brussels, confirm that there is “a full and unequivocal commitment to the prospect of EU accession for the Western Balkans.” European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said that during the war, enlargement “should be seen as a way to ensure the geopolitical security of the EU.”

Despite doubts about the viability of the EU enlargement process and the bad experience of the Balkans, the “twenty-seven” today will speak out loudly in favor of granting Ukraine the status of a candidate country for the EU club, as well as Georgia, which submitted its request almost simultaneously, just a few days after the start of the Russian invasion. The green light for Kyiv, Ukrainian Ambassador to the EU Vsevolod Chentsov told Reuters, is “a strong signal to Moscow that Ukraine and other countries of the former USSR cannot belong to Russia’s sphere of influence.”


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