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EU leaders fail to agree on opening accession talks with Albania, N. Macedonia

EU leaders fail to agree on opening accession talks with Albania, N. Macedonia License: CC0 Creative Commons

SKOPJE (North Macedonia), October 18 (SeeNews) – The European Union leaders failed to live up to their commitment to open accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn said on Friday.

“This is a matter of extreme disappointment. The EU and member states now need to clarify how serious their commitment is to the Western Balkans’ EU integration,” Hahn said in a Twitter post after the conclusion of a meeting of the European Council on October 18.

“The responsibility for this failure is not with Albania and North Macedonia who hoped rightly for a positive decision. They delivered! It was the EU which failed to deliver because of internal issues. This damages the EU’s credibility not only in Western Balkans but beyond,” Hahn noted, adding that this is not a moment of glory for the EU.

The refusal to acknowledge proven progress from the Western Balkans will have negative consequences, including the risk of destabilization of the region, with full impact on the EU, the enlargement commissioner said.

“It is our responsibility now to stand with the countries whose citizens are rightly disappointed to the bone and will continue to do everything in my power to support them,” Hahn noted, adding that the EU integration of the Western Balkans remains an important strategic policy with mutual interest.

The European Council will revert to the issue before the EU-Western Balkans summit in Zagreb in May, it said in its conclusions.

The European Council granted the status of candidate country for EU membership to Albania in 2014 and to North Macedonia in 2005.