The European Union has been urged to move ahead with accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia by the prime minister of Slovenia, which took over the EU presidency for six months on 1 July.
Speaking at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday, 6 July, Janez Jansa said: "We know that the European Union makes big steps forward once it focuses on something. If we move it up the agenda we will be able to take concrete steps forward. Albania and North Macedonia can move forward by the next summit in October if we all concentrate on that.”
Some colourful footprints to start the day here in @Europarl_EN Strasbourg as Slovenian PM Janez Jansa @JJansaSDS arrives, a message from my colleague @daniel_freund and @teajarc that democracy must not be trampled on during Slovenia's EU presidency pic.twitter.com/KYZ3cNwK7h— Ciarán Cuffe (@CiaranCuffe) July 6, 2021
Slovenia has organised a special Balkans summit in October and Mr Jansa said he was keen for the talks with Tirana and Skopje to take place before that event.
Albania first applied in 2009 - at the same time as Serbia - while North Macedonia, formerly known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia - has been waiting since 2004.
In March last year approval was given for formal talks but Bulgaria is reported to have blocked North Macedonia’s entry because of a dispute about their languages.
Bulgaria says North Macedonia cannot join the EU until it agrees Macedonian is not a separate language but simply a dialect of Bulgarian.
(1/4) Acting A/S Reeker met today with PM @ediramaal, DP Chair @lulzimbasha_al, several vetted members of 🇦🇱 justice system & other leaders. He emphasized the importance of 🇺🇸🇦🇱 relations over the past 30 years since 🇦🇱 rejected communist dictatorship in favor of democracy. https://t.co/e8UC3hmUlg— Ambassador Yuri Kim (@USAmbAlbania) June 30, 2021
EU ambassadors are holding a meeting on Wednesday, 7 July, about how to progress Albania and North Macedonia’s accession processes.
Several countries - notably France, Denmark and the Netherlands - are keen to put the brakes on further enlargement of the EU.
Best luck to @EU2021SI for a successful Presidency. We are looking forward to work together for concrete deliverables on the Presidency’s priority on the Western Balkans.— Albania in EU (@AlMissionEU) July 1, 2021
Albania is thought to be one of Europe's most corrupt countries and criminal gangs with roots in Albania have spread to Greece, Italy, Germany, Britain and Spain.
Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted a meeting of Balkan leaders in Berlin on Monday and said she saw Albania, North Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina as all entering the EU eventually.