EU ministers ‘more positive’ over West Balkan membership talks, Finnish FM says
Finland's foreign minister said on Friday his EU colleagues were increasingly hopeful they could eventually move towards membership talks with North Macedonia and Albania, though he gave no timeline.
Pekka Haavisto spoke after meeting his EU counterparts in Helsinki to discuss, among other issues, the membership ambitions of the two West Balkan countries which have been held up by delays and opposition from some states.
“In my opinion, there were more positive expectations in the air that at some point we could proceed to talks with North Macedonia and Albania,” Haavisto told reporters, without saying who had expressed greater optimism.
The former Yugoslav republic changed its name to North Macedonia this year, ending a more than two decade dispute with Greece and removing an obstacle to its membership of the EU and NATO.
But some EU states have said Albania needs to do more to tackle organised crime and corruption and strengthen the rule of law.
Earlier on Friday, the European Union's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini declined to comment on which states supported moving forward on the membership talks and which were opposed.
“I've seen today an even stronger support and determination and awareness among member states on the strategic importance for the European Union to be consistent on the next steps of the enlargement process,” Mogherini said. [Reuters]