Hopes for opening accession negotiations come earlier this year from France, the new European Commission and the Croatian Presidency of the European Council, a strong supporter of Western Balkans membership in the European Union. Albania has high expectations from the EU-Western Ballkans Zagreb Summit, which will be held on May 6-7, regarded as the most important event of the Croatian Presidency, launched with the motto, “A Strong Europe, in a world of challenges”.
France is revising its position to unblock the opening of negotiations and that was made public by President Macron in a meeting in Paris with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic in January. The French president stated that “France wishes Zagreb Summit to be a moment of unity and a success for Europe.” In the present case, unity and success will be achieved if the Zagreb Summit succeeds in giving Albania and North Macedonia a date for opening accession negotiations.
Gledis Gjipali, Director of ‘European Movement-Albania’, tells Deutsche Welle(DW) that President Macron’s statement means reaching a consensus with all EU member states to open negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia.
“We have a growing flexibility of President Macron against his decision last October, when he blocked the enlargement process, sticking to the enlargement process methodology reformation. His statement on a successful unity summit signifies France’s willingness to resolve the issue of enlargement, ”Gledis Gjipali tells DW.
Will the new methodology start with Albania and North Macedonia?
This is the immediate question. President Macron’s hopeful statement to revise France’s blocking stance was accompanied by appreciation for expected changes in the methodology of the negotiation process. He called them “a precondition for opening negotiations with candidate countries” although the changes proposed by France have been coldly welcomed by a considerable number of EU member states.
In a proposal to the European Commission (EC) in mid-December, nine EU member states – Austria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland and Slovenia, stressed out that “changes in the methodology of the enlargement process should not affect the decision to open negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. ”
“The alternative proposal of the 9 EU member states is a response to the French one that decides to reform the enlargement process methodology, before deciding on Albania and North Macedonia. Under these circumstances, the only way that helps unblocking of the process of accession negotiations opening is to reach a compromise. Europe is based on compromise, ”says Gledis Gjipali.
The hopes for the compromise reaching in favor of accession negotiations opening with Albania and North Macedonia under the existing laws have been revived since Friday, when the EC President Ursula von der Leyen declared in Zagreb in a joint press conference with the Croatian PM Plenkovic that conditions and rules should not be changed now for Albania and North Macedonia.
“We should keep our promises. Albania and North Macedonia have met the conditions set for the opening of accession negotiations. The main target is to ensure Albania and North Macedonia that the door is open and the accession negotiations may kick off” she said.
EC President has also spoken about the renovation of the methodology in parallel with the opening of accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. That is an opposite end stance with the French President Macron, who turned down the opening of negotiations with these two countries before the start of the methodology reformation. She also reiterated that she would put forward a draft of changes by the beginning of the new year as regards the way EU scans the countries that aspire membership. It was in October last year when France blocked the opening of accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia targeting a careful revision of the law implementation for both countries. Entela Komnino journalist of RTSH covering the issues of integration thinks that the recent statements of EC President show clearly that the situation is changing in favor of Albania and North Macedonia. These declarations showcase that the compromise is underway or has already been achieved. And the member countries seek the Yes-Acknowledgement for the opening of accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia” said Komnino for Deutsche Welle.