Zovko welcomes the Council decision to open the accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania
Brussels 24 March 2020
Today, the European Council decided to open the accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. Member of the European Parliament and EPP vice coordinator for foreign affairs, Zeljana Zovko, reacts elated. “This is a giant leap for the future of the Western Balkans. I congratulate North Macedonia and Albania with their achievements. The new status in the enlargement process was more than deserved.” Zovko also stated that this Council decision means a lot for the region as a whole. The other Western Balkan countries received the message that European membership is still a possibility.
Last October, the Council failed to find consensus on the opening of the negotiations for the two countries due to the unwillingness of some Member States. They expressed their concerns and wanted to see better commitments from both the two countries in the region as well as from the European Union. This decision upset several EU peers. Led by Zeljana Zovko, the European Parliament adopted a resolution deploring the outcome of the Council meeting. “The Council decision in October was a big disappointment and a strategic mistake with detrimental effect on the EU’s credibility in the region,” Zovko said. “In order to prevent the possibility for other players – whose activity might not be in line with EU values and interests- to fill those gaps that the EU left untouched, The Council needed to cautiously reflect on the impact of its decision.”
Together with Manfred Weber, Chairman of the EPP Group in the European Parliament, Zovko travelled to North Macedonia where she met with The North Macedonian President Pendarovski and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Internal Affairs Spasovski, as well as with the President of VMRO-DPMNE Party, Hristijan Mickoski, member of EPP. She assured her interlocutors of the group’s support for their cause.
In May, the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union has planned a Western Balkans Summit in Zagreb. This would be an anniversary of the 2000 Zagreb Summit that counts as start of the improved relations between the EU and the region, but it would also be a moment to take stock of the achievements, commitments and challenges that feature the enlargement process. “Regarding the current situation of the coronacrisis and the aftermath of the earthquakes that struck Zagreb, we still have to see how things will develop. However, even if the Zagreb Summit will be canceled or postponed, the European Union should use this increased impetus to continue improving our relations with Southeast Europe. In solidarity with the region in these unprecedented times, the EU should start with a visible response to the entire Western Balkans and their need for help in fighting the coronavirus and its consequences.