EU accession talks with Albania and Macedonia
The western Balkan states have waited a long time for for accession negotiations with the EU. Now two more have been given a green light: Albania and Macedonia will be invited for talks starting 2019. But their path to EU membership will be long and stony, commentators predict.
Prospect of accession promotes peace
The Neue Zürcher Zeitung sees this as a clever decision from a strategic point of view:
“Albania and Macedonia are strategically important because they are weak states that can destabilise each other. A quarter of Macedonia's population are Albanians. Their loyalty to the state is tied to certain conditions: minority rights, equality, cultural autonomy. These are criteria that Macedonia can only fulfil in the context of closer relations with the EU and with its help. Conversely, Greater Albania nationalism is by no means dead. It isn't even sleeping particularly deeply. That Albania isn't pushing for the unification of all Albanians stems from the hope that one day all Albanians will be EU citizens. This prospect must not be blocked.”
EU now more demanding
The EU accession negotiations with Albania and Macedonia will be longer and tougher than they have been in the past, writes blogger Adelina Marini in a commentary for Sega:
“The EU will set one condition after the next and demand far stricter guarantees for their fulfilment. More than ever the accession process will entail a give-and-take between the EU and the candidate in question. Paradoxically, the countries that bear the largest responsibility for this state of affairs are those EU members that most strongly support EU enlargement: newcomers Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and Malta. They have shown that Brussels' approach to exporting democracy to the accession countries is wrong because the democratic process can be reversed once the country has joined.”