Progress report, Kukan: Albania deserves the accession negotiations opening

On the eve of the 17th April progress report release on the six Western Balkan countries, Brussels announced that its support and focus on the enlargement process will not affect any form of assessment of the state of democracy, rule of law, human rights, economy in line  with EU standards in each of the six partner countries in the region. Albania and Macedonia will receive recommendations for opening accession negotiations with the EU. Eduard Kukan, Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, and chairman of the Committee on Cooperation with the Western Balkans, told DW he believes that both countries have made substantial progress on the road to the EU. Earlier this year, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said that if Albania continues in this way on the path of reforms, the Commission will give a recommendation to launch membership negotiations within the first six months of 2018. And that will probably happen. Unofficially, DW learned from diplomatic sources in Brussels that EU senior officials have held discussions with member states about opening membership negotiations with Skopje and Tirana until the approval of the reports. According to Eduard Kukan, Kosovo, like Bosnia-Herzegovina, should not expect positive reports from the European Commission this year. The rule of law and economic aspects of the country are still under a big question, while the normalization of relations with Serbia is stagnant, with high rates and tensions on both sides. The European Commission believes that reforms in Kosovo have slowed down due to the election year last year in Kosovo.