Shortly before his visit to the Balkans, Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier criticized the beginning of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, which was refused at the EU summit last week. He was "disappointed with the outcome of the EU summit," the CDU politician told the newspaper Bild . "It is in our interest that we bind North Macedonia and Albania to the EU and recognize their great efforts for democracy and stability, and that accession talks should start very soon," said Altmaier, who holds talks in Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia on Monday and Tuesday.

In fact, it was expected that the summit would allow accession talks. But France, the Netherlands and Denmark refused to start the negotiations. The reforms of the judiciary and administration in the two candidate countries have not yet progressed far enough.

North Macedonia, in particular, had invested heavily in advance payments for the opening of accession negotiations. Against opposition of the nationalist opposition, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev had pushed through the change of the name of Macedonia in northern Macedonia. The EU member Greece had requested this, because a province in the north of the country is also called Macedonia.

Zaev spoke of "a great injustice" and a "historical error" of the EU and announced new elections. The elections should therefore be held on 12 April. Zaev will resign at the beginning of January. A transitional government should lead the country until the parliamentary election.