On the day that the leaders of the European Union are preparing to grant Ukraine the status of a candidate to join the community bloc, the Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama, advised the Ukrainians “not to have their hopes up” because the accession process will be very spacious. “North Macedonia has been a hanging candidate for 16 years and Albania has been a hanging candidate for eight, so welcome Ukraine,” he joked. He knew how to get to the summit between the EU countries and the Western Balkans.
Rama arrived in Brussels chastened by the bloc that Bulgaria is infringing on Albania and North Macedonia to start negotiations on their integration into the community club. “In the midst of a hot war in Europe’s backyard, one NATO country, Bulgaria, hijacked two other NATO countries, Albania and North Macedonia, under the gaze of 26 EU countries who stand by in a show of impotence that is scary,” Rama lamented to the press during his.
Rama had threatened not to attend this meeting, as had the leaders of Serbia and North Macedonia, in protest at the position of Bulgaria, which is not in dispute to lift its veto to start accession negotiations with Skopje until it recognizes that it has a common history, identity and language with Sofia, and because of the lack of progress in the process of integrating the Balkans into the EU.
Sobering the possibility of overcoming Bulgaria’s veto, the high representative of the EU, Josep Borrell, has admitted that “things are not going well”. “We are not where we should be with the Western Balkans,” he said, calling it “disappointing” that Bulgaria’s veto could not be overcome. “This shows once again that unanimity is a big problem to take tenths. We cannot continue with a single country being the one that blocks”, he remarked.
We are not where we should be with the Western Balkans
The President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, has called for a “clear and united message” from the EU on the prospects for the accession of the Western Balkans. The president said it was “for the European family” and advised the EU that other actors could occupy the space that is already “empty” in the region. Osmani also defended the liberalization of visas for the country. “It is a great injustice for the people of Kosovo,” he lamented.
As you know, the president of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, hoped that the meeting with European leaders will end with “good conclusions” from the Western Balkans. However, he stated that if this is not the case, they are “grateful” to the EU for the money it allocates to the region.
Hopes to overcome Bulgaria’s veto
Faced with the stagnation of the accession of the Western Balkans, the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, had opted for a new impetus for the actions and had entrusted himself with the power to overcome “as soon as possible” the Bulgarian veto. “For us it is a top priority,” he said.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has argued that the Western Balkans need to have a “real opportunity” to join the EU. He reiterated that these countries have worked “very hard” and that it is necessary to “make them the order of the day.”
For his part, the Prime Minister of Ireland, Micheál Martin, has stressed that being part of the EU is “transforming” and has hoped that they can make “progress” with the Western Balkans. Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has said it is “important” that the Western Balkans are “in the European family”.
Years of waiting for the Balkans
For now, only negotiations and accession chapters have been opened with Montenegro and Serbia, despite the fact that little progress has been made. Albania and North Macedonia are still waiting for Bulgaria to lift its veto to open negotiations with these two countries. Lastly, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina still have the status of potential candidates.
At the summit, European leaders must give a response to the stagnation of the accession processes of the Western Balkans in a context in which Ukraine’s application for accession advances.