NEWS

Hahn laments failure to green-light North Macedonia, Albania accession talks

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The European Union commissioner for enlargement, Johannes Hahn, on Thursday lamented last week’s decision not to open accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania as “a matter of deep disappointment.”

In opening remarks at the European Parliament plenary debate on opening the accession talks, Hahn said that EU leaders have “failed to live up to their commitment.”

“This is not a moment of glory for the EU. We are now at an impasse,” said Hahn, reiterating remarks made to reporters in Luxembourg after taking part in the meeting of European affairs ministers last week.

“There is unanimity about one thing: the Western Balkans need many more courageous decisions such as Prespa,” Hahn said, referring to the agreement signed between Athens and Skopje in the summer of 2018, settling a decades-old name dispute and paving the way for North Macedonia’s membership to the EU and NATO.

French President Emmanuel Macron has said he will no allow any new countries into the 28-nation bloc until its enlargement procedures have been improved, while the Netherlands opposes Albania's candidacy and disputes the commission's assessment that both countries have met all the criteria for admittance.

“North Macedonia and Albania are not to blame for this situation. Both countries did what they were asked to do and our reports on the countries acknowledge this,” Hahn said.

“Our responsibility now is to stand with the countries whose citizens are deeply disappointed. They have the right to feel short changed but should not give up hope. Our commitment to the EU perspective of the Western Balkans remains unchanged,” he added.