Brussels (AP) - The heads of state and government of the EU states have not reached an agreement in the dispute over the start of EU accession negotiations with the Balkan states of North Macedonia and Albania despite hours of negotiations.
There are no conclusions today, said Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne during the night at the EU summit in Brussels.
Whether the talks will be continued this Friday on the second summit day was initially unclear. Rinne explained that they wanted to continue talking, but he was not sure if there could still be an agreement. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, on the other hand, said that the subject would be discussed at a later EU summit.
The main reason for the failure of the talks on Thursday evening is the position of French President Emmanuel Macron. The Paris government is calling for a fundamental reform of the accession process as a condition for agreeing to start the accession negotiations. In addition, there are doubts about the reform progress, especially in Albania.
By contrast, countries like Germany consider the resistance to be false and dangerous. They argue that the two Balkan countries have fulfilled the EU's conditions for starting accession negotiations and that, therefore, the credibility of the EU is at stake.
It is also feared that Albania and northern Macedonia could increasingly turn to countries such as Russia, China or Turkey, and that reforms for more democracy and the rule of law would be endangered. This is particularly problematic because the Balkans are in the midst of the EU and bordering on member countries such as Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Croatia.
Bitter is the dispute between the EU countries, especially for northern Macedonia, because the country has about 2.1 million inhabitants and recently changed its name from Macedonia to northern Macedonia for the perspective of accession negotiations. The Greek government had demanded this, because a northern Greek province Macedonia is called and territorial claims were feared.
EU Commission on North Macedonia
EU Commission on Albania