- Vucic: Pristina’s goal is occupying the north and expulsion of Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija (Tanjug/RTS)
- Brnabic, Mondoloni discuss Macron’s visit to Serbia (Tanjug)
- Dacic: It is in Serbia’s interest to renew relations with Peru (RTV)
- Engel with Serbian MPs: Important to continue Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (Tanjug)
- Western Balkans Summit opens in Poland (Beta)
Bosnia & Herzegovina
- Thaci rejects invitation to attend SEECP Summit in B&H (Glas Srpske)
- Chairman Zvizdic says condition for authority formation is adoption of ANP (N1)
- Dodik and Bakir push SDS out of authorities (EuroBlic)
- Sarovic: SDS will not enter coalition with SNSD, but we can cooperate on issues of importance for RS (Nezavisne novine)
- B&H CoM discusses migrant crisis; tasks Minister Pendes to prepare engagement of units of B&H Armed Forces; Dodik: I will not allow borders to be closed (TV1/BN TV)
- Orepic: Croatia must change its policy towards B&H (Hina)
- Milanovic accuses Plenkovic of putting personal ambitions ahead of Croatian interests (HRT)
- Montenegro to open remaining negotiation chapter during Finland’s EU presidency (CDM)
- Merkel: Germany stands firmly behind the European future of the WB (Pobjeda)
Republic of North Macedonia
- Montenegro to open remaining negotiation chapter during Finland’s EU presidency (CDM)
- Merkel: Germany stands firmly behind the European future of the WB (Pobjeda)
- Meta: Ready to hold general and presidential elections in October (Radio Tirana)
- Rama: June 30 elections served the rightness rather than the left wing (Radio Tirana)
- Brussels appeals to government and opposition to urgently launch dialogue to overcome the political crisis in Albania (Radio Tirana)
- Albania establishes four pillars for cooperation with Kosovo (ADN)
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
- Size matters: France deflates EU enlargement aspirations (Reuters)
Vucic: Pristina’s goal is occupying the north and expulsion of Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija (Tanjug/RTS)
The goal of all moves by Pristina, including attempts to force the Serbs from northern Kosovo and Metohija is to purchase Albanian goods, and not Serbian, to ban freedom of speech and to arrest and expel all those who oppose their policy, is to establish control over the north and to expel the Serbs from the entire territory of Kosovo and Metohija, said Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. The question if why is Pristina doing this, what is the final goal of Pristina and some from the West who support these measures, and what can we do, Vucic told an extraordinary press conference. Vucic says that the Albanians first banned delivery, trade, i.e. absolute ban of delivery of with Serbian goods. He explains this was aimed at people forgetting their link with the Serbian state, Serbian language, and reconciling with the fact that they live in another state. He says that at work is also brutal ban of freedom of speech and verbal delict is criminally legally sanctioned in the most brutal manner by the Pristina institutions. Regarding this, he gave as an example Ivan Todosijevic, member of the Serb List and Zvecan mayor, who expressed his opinion and political judgement about Racak, saying that this was a manipulation of the international community and the Albanian public, in order to conduct a criminal aggression. Vucic said that the Serbian institutions think they have the name of the assassin of Oliver Ivanovic, and that Milan Radoicic is not involved in this murder. Radoicic is no saint, but he didn’t take part in any way in the murder of Ivanovic, said Vucic, quoting intelligence data.
Brnabic, Mondoloni discuss Macron’s visit to Serbia (Tanjug)
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic on Tuesday met with French Ambassador to Belgrade Frederic Mondoloni to discuss an upcoming visit by French President Emmanuel Macron, which she said would be an additional incentive to more intensive and stronger bilateral political and economic cooperation. The visit will also be a signal to French companies to invest more in Serbia, a government statement quoted Brnabic as saying. They talked about Brnabic’s recent visit to Paris and meetings with the French PM and the president of the Senate, as well as about the strengthening of bilateral ties. Mondoloni briefed Brnabic on agreements that are under preparation and due to be signed during Macron’s visit to Belgrade and noted French companies were increasingly interested in doing business in Serbia.
Dacic: It is in Serbia’s interest to renew relations with Peru (RTV)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic has assessed that his visit to Peru was of historical significance since it is in Serbia’s interest to renew relations with that country. “They practically
Have the status of a frozen conflict, meaning that they recognized (Kosovo) 2008 under the US influence, but they haven’t conducted any other action, they haven’t established diplomatic relations, and they haven’t been voting for Kosovo’s membership in international organizations since 2015, they haven’t voted for Kosovo’s membership in UNESCO and Interpol,” Dacic said.
Dacic pointed out that Peru is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, and in July it will chair the Security Council, and that Serbia has its open support in the Security Council.
“The time has come to renew our relations. We will actively participate in the search for our common interests and, to this end, I expect a visit from my counterpart,” Dacic stated. The issue of Kosovo is not the most important issue to talk about, the most important are our strategic relations and our presence in the region. Such a friendly relationship will produce a friendly attitude towards the problems regarding Kosovo, he explained. Dacic underlined that it is necessary for Serbia to return to the place that Yugoslavia had in relations with those countries and to protect its national and state interests through such friendly attitude towards them. The American continent has 35 states that are members of the UN, at the moment Kosovo has not been recognized by 19 countries, whereas 16 have recognized it. Peru froze its decision on recognition, so Peru can no longer be counted as a country that supports Kosovo, and for us it is very important, Dacic underlined.
Engel with Serbian MPs: Important to continue Belgrade-Pristina dialogue (Tanjug)
US Congressman Eliot Engel met with deputy speakers Vladimir Marinkovic and Gordana Comic, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Zarko Obradovic and MP Sandra Bozic to talk about the situation in the Western Balkans and the Belgrade-Pristina talks. Engel said that the countries in the Western Balkans need to move beyond their enmities and cooperate to become EU members and create a better future for their people. He said that the US wants to facilitate the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and is friendly to both sides. Highlighting the long standing friendship between Serbia and the US, he said he was sure the two countries would remain to be allies in the future as well. The MPs emphasized how important it is to continue the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina so as to find a lasting and sustainable solution in the interest of everybody who lives on these territories. They thanked Engel for urging for dialogue saying that his good image and influence in the region can contribute to the return to dialogue and to the peace and security of the region.
Western Balkans Summit opens in Poland (Beta)
The sixth Summit of the Western Balkans countries starts in the Polish city of Poznań on Wednesday with the regional cooperation, linkage, mobility, Roma integration, overcoming existing challenges and the economic growth as main topics on the agenda, the Beta news agency has reported. The heads of states and prime ministers are due to meet on Friday, while the meeting of economy, interior and foreign ministers will be held a day earlier. The Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) will present a report on progress in regional cooperation and the regional transformation on its road to the European Union. The participants at one of the several panels will address the Declaration of Western Balkans’ partners about Roma and the EU enlargement titled ‘From words to deeds,’ as a part of the RCC project ‘The Integration of Roma.’
Thaci rejects invitation to attend SEECP Summit in B&H (Glas Srpske)
President of self-proclaimed Kosovo Hashim Thaci did not accept invitation by the Chairman of the Presidency of B&H Milorad Dodik to visit B&H next week and attend the annual South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) Summit. Thaci also did not want to attend the annual conference of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which took place one month ago in Sarajevo, saying that he did not want to come because B&H has never recognized the independence of Kosovo.
Chairman Zvizdic says condition for authority formation is adoption of ANP (N1)
Session of the Council of Ministers (CoM) of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) was held on Tuesday. Ministers in B&H CoM failed to adopt decision on temporary financing of B&H institutions due to absence of B&H Minister of Finance and Treasury Vjekoslav Bevanda. Following the session, Chairman of B&H CoM Denis Zvizdic said that employees in state institutions should not be concerned, because the stipulations of B&H Constitution prevent blockade of financing of B&H institutions. Also, Zvizdic denied claims that turning point regarding formation of authorities in B&H might be moment when he takes over post of Chairman of B&H House of Representatives (HoR). He also stated that basic condition for formation of new B&H authorities is adoption of B&H’s Annual National Program (ANP). Zvizdic said that SDA will not give up on adoption of the ANP and will insist on fulfilling this condition prior to forming the new B&H CoM convocation. SNSD’s Stasa Kosarac underlined that SDA is most responsible for current situation. He stressed that if SDA wanted results of General Elections 2018 to be implemented, B&H CoM would be working in full capacity and budget of B&H institutions would be adopted by now. Kosarac said that activation of NATO MAP for B&H is not condition for formation of B&H CoM. He stated that SNSD will remain committed to decisions of the Republika Srpska parliament on military neutrality. He also said that conditioning of SDA can be observed as attempt to achieve some political goals.
Dodik and Bakir push SDS out of authorities (EuroBlic)
The daily claimed that SDS stands almost no chance to stay in the authorities at the level of B&H because SNSD and HDZ B&H, thanks to SDA, have absolute majority in B&H House of Peoples (HoP) so no decisions can be made without them. Namely, according to the daily, after SDA in the RS parliament directly elected the fourth delegate of SNSD in B&H HoP SDA leader Bakir Izetbegovic and SDA members pushed SDS out of the authorities at the level of B&H and gave advantage to SNSD. However, this advantage is now causing troubles for SDA because SNSD refuses to accept conditions of SDA. The daily went on to say that it will be almost impossible for SDS to stay in the authorities at the level of B&H in spite of the fact even newly-elected President of SDS Mirko Sarovic announced that he will try to keep the party in the state level authorities. PDP leader Branislav Borenovic said that SNSD, SDA and HDZ B&H took over the responsibility to form the authorities after the general elections and added: “They easily reach an agreement to appoint each other’s delegates in HoP, leaderships of both houses of the Parliament of B&H, they distributed ministries in the Council of Ministers of B&H so now it is time for them to assume full and concrete responsibility for the country”. Borenovic announced that PDP is willing to support any good proposal that would be in favor of citizens but it will also strongly criticize any bad initiative or decision.
Sarovic: SDS will not enter coalition with SNSD, but we can cooperate on issues of importance for RS (Nezavisne novine)
Newly-elected leader of SDS, Mirko Sarovic said that SDS is ready to talk with SNSD and Milorad Dodik about issues of interest for RS, “but there will be no coalition”. “There have been too many big gaps between us in previous years for us to be able to say now that we will form a coalition. I think that it is not realistic at this point in time. I think that wise people understand that”, said Sarovic. Commenting on his first moves as the new leader of SDS, Sarovic said that there will be a lot of moves until the end of the year, including internal reorganization of the party and beginning of preparations for the upcoming local elections in B&H. Asked to say if SDS might remain a part of the Council of Ministers (CoM) of B&H in the next four years as well, Sarovic said that SDS “wants to be a live party which creates events”. “We want to have initiative, to provoke things. We will talk with everyone about everything, and we will see how far we can get. We are in the parliament of B&H and the RS parliament to promote our own ideas, and – if possible – to win the authority, and then, through participation in authority, to implement our policies and change society for the better,” explained Sarovic. Commenting on relations between SDS and SNSD, Sarovic reiterated that there is no reason whatsoever for those two parties not to jointly defend the interests of the RS in both the RS parliament and the parliament of B&H, without being a part of the coalition. “I believe that it is fair and principled stance of SDS. Neither Dodik nor anyone else can have the privilege to decide who is defending the RS and who is not doing that, or who is patriot and who is not. Patriots are never members of just one political party. I will support whatever he proposes if it is in the interest of the RS, the way I see it. But we do not have to form coalition,” concluded Sarovic.
B&H CoM discusses migrant crisis; tasks Minister Pendes to prepare engagement of units of B&H Armed Forces; Dodik: I will not allow borders to be closed (TV1/BN TV)
At a session held in Sarajevo on Tuesday, B&H Council of Ministers (CoM) discussed the migrant crisis and B&H Minister of Defense Marina Pendes was tasked to urgently prepare a decision on engagement of engineer units of B&H Armed Forces (AF), which are supposed to help in the fight against this problem. CoM Chairman Denis Zvizdic explained that they are supposed to cover the locations that migrants use to illegally cross the border. “We have received a report of the B&H Ministry of Security and the B&H Border Police on the exact locations. There are around 15 locations in focus, 10 of which are used the most frequently. Some of them are located at the border with Montenegro and some of them at the border with Serbia,” Zvizdic explained. He added that the second conclusion refers to finalization of the agreement on cooperation between the Ministries of Interior and the B&H Border Police, explaining that certain number of police officers will be engaged to watch the eastern border of B&H together with the B&H Border Police. Zvizdic stated that it is expected the Presidency will accept this decision. Presidency’s Chairman Milorad Dodik said that B&H will not physically close off its borders, as the B&H CoM requested. “It is a well-known fact that the Presidency is the Supreme Commander of the B&H AF and I, as a Presidency Chairman, will not allow for borders to be closed,” emphasized Dodik. He stressed that he knows the animosity of militant CoM Chairman Denis Zvizdic towards Serbia, noting that he should think about finding a solution to arrival of migrants in B&H through dialogue with Serbia and Montenegro, instead of closing borders and sending army on the border.
Orepic: Croatia must change its policy towards B&H (Hina)
A member of parliament, former minister of the interior and leader of the recently established New Politics party, Vlaho Orepic, has said that Croatia’s attitude to B&H, notably the interests of Croats in that country, had to change as it had become evident that the situation could not be changed for the better only through cooperation with the HDZ B&H party. Orepic, who used to be minister of the interior nominated by the Bridge party, told that he was concerned about the conduct of HDZ B&H leader Dragan Covic and described his policy as detrimental to B&H as well as Croatia’s interests. “His policy lacks legality and legitimacy in the Croat electorate in B&H… it is a policy that tries to present, based on the model used by Milorad Dodik, the policy of war booty as a Croatian interest… many in Herzegovina, even successful business people are afraid and depend on his policy. The Croatian government, too, is afraid to rub him the wrong way because he is part of the ruling majority and is using political blackmail in the parliament to secure its support,” said Orepic. He noted that Covic’s drawing closer to B&H Serb leader Dodik, who, he said, openly questioned Bosnia and Herzegovina’s territorial integrity and NATO membership bid, was entirely opposed to Croatia’s strategic interests. “Covic and his political exhibitionism are the most important reason why relations between B&H and Croatia are bad,” Orepic said, adding that that policy should be replaced with one based on principles of trust and responsibility and that it could be articulated by other political parties that would represent the interests of all Croats in B&H, including his New Politics party.
Milanovic accuses Plenkovic of putting personal ambitions ahead of Croatian interests (HRT)
In a post on social media Zoran Milanovic, the former SDP leader and Croatian Prime Minister from December 2011 to January 2016 – who is now running as the SDP candidate for the upcoming presidential elections, accused Croatian Prime Minister and HDZ Party Chairman Andrej Plenkovic of putting personal ambitions ahead of national interests while participating in negotiations on the naming of a new President of the European Commission in Brussels.
“Subjugating Croatia’s positions to some kind of People’s Party is unacceptable. It is also unwise to do so at a time when Germany, which is still being represented by Angela Merkel, advocates an opposing position and backs the nonetheless acceptable Frans Timmermans for president of the European Commission. Plenkovic continues to support Manfred Weber, who has slowly deprived himself of support,” Milanovic said in his post. The HDZ has responded to Milanovic’s comments by noting that Plenkovic has not only been defending Croatia’s national interests, but has also been working to ensure Croatia a strong position within the EU in the coming five-year period. The prime minister has also personally responded to Milanovic’s accusations. “Someone who succeeded in destroying Croatia’s image in the EU’s most important member state just days before Croatia was set to join the bloc would be better off staying silent rather than commenting on things going on here that he knows nothing about.”
Montenegro to open remaining negotiation chapter during Finland’s EU presidency (CDM)
After welcoming Ambassador of Finland to Montenegro Kimmo Lahdevirta and wishing him success in his work, Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic thanked Finland for providing support to Montenegro on its path towards the EU accession, stressing the Montenegro’s commitment to pursuing reforms in order to achieve European standards. The Prime Minister said he is hopeful that during the Finnish presidency, which started yesterday, Montenegro will open the only remaining negotiation chapter and bring to an end the work on reports that will define the internal willingness to close certain negotiation chapters. Ambassador Lahdevirta informed the Prime Minister about the priorities of the Finnish presidency over the Council of the EU, saying that his country will promote the enlargement policy and that all the Western Balkan countries must have a European perspective. Finland, according to him, advocates for the regatta principle, i.e. the individual assessment of success of each candidate country.
Merkel: Germany stands firmly behind the European future of the WB (Pobjeda)
Germany stands firmly behind the European future of the Western Balkans and supports the countries from the region in their reform efforts, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet said. Due to the reports on the countries being released late, the deadline for opening accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania was too short. “Before making this decision, the federal government needs to get approval from the Bundestag, as well,” said Merkel in a written response to the Montenegrin newspaper Pobjeda, which had asked her to comment on the EU Council’s summit outcome. At the Brussels summit in June, the EU Council decided to postpone the decision to open talks with the two countries. Skopje and Tirana were given a new date—October—when EU member countries are to convene again and decide when North Macedonia and Albania might start membership negotiations with the bloc. Merkel told a news conference at the end of the two-day summit that she would put all her political weight behind the decision to give North Macedonia a date in October to start talks.
Meta: Ready to hold general and presidential elections in October (Radio Tirana)
Two days after the local elections and victory in SP majority, Albanian President Ilir Meta held a press conference underscoring that the country has been plunged into a crisis that needs to be resolved. Meta attacked Prime Minister Rama and the international community supporting him. President Meta said: “I do not want Albania to lose anymore due to political and embassy games”. Mr. Meta brought forward proposals to the crisis resolving that is holding general and presidential elections on 13 October, the date decreed for local elections: “The country requires a solution and I have constantly provided a solution. My solution is holding general and Presidential elections on 13 October and I will run for President,” said Meta. “We should be voted by the people, we will not demolish democracy,” he said. “If the political crisis is deepened, visas for Albania will be restored,” the head of the Albanian state warned, while the country is awaiting the opening of talks with the EU. Meta accused Prime Minister Rama of “seeking to destroy the institutions, to turn the country into junta”, a strong statement made earlier by him against the head of the government Edi Rama. “I will do everything to protect the democracy we won in 30 years ago,” said the head of the Albanian state.
Rama: June 30 elections served the rightness rather than the left wing (Radio Tirana)
Prime Minister Edi Rama together with Interior Minister Sander Lleshaj attended a meeting with the police directors of the Ministry of Interior. While announcing changes to be launched this week in the Criminal Code, the prime minister also spoke about the 30 June elections, which he said served the rightness rather than the left wing. Rama came to the police, saying they had a lot to do, but he himself had even more to do and learn. “June 30 rewarded the rightness and not the left wing, the labor force and not violence. We need to understand that we should be worthy of serving the country. Those who saved democracy are the ones who love them more. It should serve us to improve ourselves first. You have a lot to do while I have much more to learn and to do for the country,” said Rama.
Brussels appeals to government and opposition to urgently launch dialogue to overcome the political crisis in Albania (Radio Tirana)
European Union is in the same line with the US stance on local elections in Albania. Brussels reiterates its appeal to the government and the opposition to urgently launch dialogue to overcome the political crisis in Albania. “Local elections held in Albania on Sunday 30 June were held in a context of political division, but in a generally calm and orderly manner. We considered all the preliminary observations made by the Head of the OSCE / ODIHR Election Observation Mission. The newly elected local bodies should now be able to work according to their constitutional competencies, to the benefit of the citizens of the country. “As repeatedly stated, the government and the opposition must show political maturity and urgently engage in constructive dialogue to overcome the current political situation. All Albanian institutions and political leaders should now focus their efforts on the continuity of the implementation of the reform process, including the resumption of the initiated reform of the electoral legislation to address ODIHR recommendations,” said Maja Kocijancic. In the same opinion with Foreign Policy Chief Mohgerini’s spokeswoman is also the EU Ambassador in Albania Luigi Soreca. Through a post on social networks he has distributed the statement of Kocijancic, who says the elections were quiet and is an urgent time for dialogue. The opposition as well as the President of the Republic do not recognize the elections, as they point out that 30 June ended with the defeat of the head of state this date, but the Electoral College overthrew Ilir Meta, while the US and all other important chancellery European parties backed the date set for the process that was held yesterday in Albania.
Albania establishes four pillars for cooperation with Kosovo (ADN)
Acting Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Gent Cakaj announced four points for diplomatic and consular representations, which Albania and Kosovo shall have in common. At a joint press conference with Kosovo Minister of Foreign Affairs Behgjet Pacolli, Acting Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of Albania, Gent Cakaj signed the inter-ministerial agreement on the unity of diplomatic and consular missions and for strategic cooperation in the field of foreign policy. Cakaj declared that they decided to establish a joint council for strategic planning of national importance policies and that they agreed on a joint fund for management and jointly embassies and consulates. From today, we will start working on having embassies and consulates all over the world. Furthermore, Acting Minister announced that he is looking forward to the arrival of Kosovo diplomats in the diplomatic service of Albania, Albanians who will go to serve in Kosovo diplomatic centers, also to staff exchanges of the aforementioned ministries. In conclusion, Cakaj said that the two states shall have a joint cultural calendar, also a joint Diaspora conference, not forgetting to mention that this is brotherly spirit, a necessity and a new sphere of essential cooperation. “We have decided to establish a joint council for strategic planning of national importance policies. The second is the diplomatic pillar. We have agreed on a joint fund for management and jointly embassies and consulates. From today, we will start working on having embassies and consulates all over the world. The third is the professional pillar in the diplomatic service to exchange staff in all countries around the world. I am very enthusiastic; I am looking forward to the arrival of Kosovo diplomats in the diplomatic service of Albania, but also of Albanians who will go to serve in Kosovo diplomatic centers, but also staff exchanges of our ministries. Finally, we will also have a joint cultural calendar, but also the joint Diaspora conference. This is brotherly spirit, but also a necessity. Today we are no closer than ever before, but this is a new sphere of essential cooperation,” stated Cakaj.
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SOURCES
Size matters: France deflates EU enlargement aspirations (Reuters, by Richard Lough, 2 July 2019)
BRUSSELS – European Union outsider nations courting accession to the club face dimmer prospects after French President Emmanuel Macron refused to countenance further enlargement until the bloc speeds decision-making and restores its credibility. Frustrated at fellow leaders’ inability to agree on who should hold the top EU jobs shaping policy for more than half a billion citizens, Macron on Monday gave a testy “non” to others joining the club for now. Supporters of EU eastward expansion argue it will better buttress against growing influence of Russia and China. France, however, worries expansion would leave decision-making even more unwieldy and could embolden nationalist parties. North Macedonia and Albania would be the first victims of Macron’s pique if he follows through – after their desire for membership talks was already waylayed by more than a year. An ardent Europhile whose party came second to the far-right in May’s European elections, Macron said Europe’s prestige was at stake if the bloc was constantly held hostage by minority groups, with tough decisions needed on issues ranging from climate change to migration. “I am more than skeptical toward those who say that the future of Europe lies in further enlargement, when we can’t find agreement between 28 nations,” Macron said as he left fruitless all-night negotiations in Brussels on Monday. “And I am insistent on the fact that I will refuse all forms of enlargement before deep reform to the way we function institutionally.”
ONCE THEY WERE SIX
For decades, the EU, which began life as a post-war six-country economic community created to foster peace and trade, has struggled to balance enlargement with deeper economic and political cooperation. It now stretches from Portugal in the west to former communist states once in Moscow’s orbit to the east. The Balkan states of Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina all seek entry. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has publicly expressed support for North Macedonia beginning accession talks. Her state minister for Europe, Michael Roth, told Reuters that EU foreign and security policy would be judged on maintaining peace, democracy and stability across Europe as a whole. “We cannot give up on enlargement. This would not be in German nor European interests,” Roth said. “Accession is linked to clear requirements. It has to stay like that.” North Macedonia hopes the resolution of its long-running name dispute with Greece will be its ticket in. Albania, perceived as one of Europe’s most corrupt countries that has failed to combat money laundering, faces stronger resistance from northern European states. Most decisions in the European Council – the intergovernmental part of the EU’s decision-making where leaders decide on broad policy outlines – require a qualified majority. Even so, finding agreement on hot-button matters such as migration policy and climate change has proved tough.
Enlargement requires unanimity, meaning Macron would have power of veto. The Netherlands also sided with France when the pair first unexpectedly blocked the start of EU talks for Albania and North Macedonia in June, 2018. When push comes to shove, however, it is unclear whether Macron would wield a veto – especially if Germany is in support. “Nothing new from Macron. When he says enlargement he means final accession – so true, we need to be institutionally ready for new member states,” one European official said, downplaying his stance. In a potential early test, North Macedonia’s media reported its and France’s prime ministers would meet on the sidelines of an EU-western Balkans conference in Poland on Friday and try to secure commitment for a date for accession talks approval. Failure by the EU to show North Macedonia commitment to membership negotiations risks undermining the bloc’s efforts to encourage reforms in the Balkans, said Nikola Burazer at the Belgrade-based Centre for Contemporary Politics. “If it is not rewarded, that would be a signal for all the countries in the Western Balkans that their EU (outlook) is not certain,” Burazer said. Former Albanian foreign minister Ditmir Bushati said there was no reason why the reforms Macron sought could not run simultaneously with accession talks. “We are not asking for the date to join the EU,” he told Reuters. “We are asking to start the negotiations process, which will be challenging, long and painful for countries like Albania.”
Additional reporting by Robin Emmott and Andreas Rinke in Brussels, Kole Casule in Skopje, Tsvetelia Tsolova in Sofia, Benet Koleka in Tirana and Aleksandar Vasovic in Belgrade; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne
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