18:47 GMT26 July 2021
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    Slovenia - formerly part of Yugoslavia - was one of 10 states which joined the European Union in 2004.

    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.”

    ​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.

    ​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.

    ​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.

    Tags:
    Slovenia, North Macedonia, Albania, European Union
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