EU keeping North Macedonia and Albania waiting

The Council of the European Union has postponed its decision on opening accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania to October following a meeting of EU ministers in Luxembourg. The EU mustn't go too far with its delaying tactics and the potential accession candidates shouldn't lose heart, commentators advise.

Open/close all quotes
Sega (BG) /

The EU has its own rhythm

The two countries shouldn't be discouraged by such delays, columnist Adelina Marini remarks in Sega:

“The EU is a process in which slow phases of integration alternate with fast ones. ... EU expansion is just part of this process. That's why the odd delay shouldn't be interpreted as a disaster. I'm sure that Skopje and Tirana know precisely what to do if they really want to become members of the EU. The postponement of accession talks should not serve as a justification for stopping reforms but rather have the opposite effect.”

Delo (SI) /

Promises must be kept

The EU must avoid procrastinating on this issue at all costs, Delo warns:

“The credibility of the EU's enlargement policy is at stake. The only way it can be preserved is for the EU to keep the promises it has made to North Macedonia and Albania in recent years. Since the EU is a community of sovereign states in which national interests dominate, its future expansion depends both on the EU's ability to reform itself and on the potential accession candidates' ability to integrate. ... If the EU fails to give North Macedonia and Albania a green light this autumn, this will only strengthen nationalist forces across the Balkans.”

Izvestia (RU) /

Albania has become an enfant terrible

Izvestia sees putting an end to fantasies about a Greater Albania as the real motivation for the EU integration of countries like Albania and North Macedonia:

“The Albanians deliberately and successfully played with the role of anti-Serb and anti-Russian counterweight assigned to them by the West - and became a European enfant terrible that believes it can do as it pleases. Now they are out of control, they're blackmailing Europe and trying to play their own game. They talk openly of implementing the idea of a 'Greater Albania' promoted by the German and Italian fascists in the Second World War. ... Clearly the West is hoping that by integrating these countries the 'Albanian disobedience' will be postponed to the distant future, if not entirely prevented.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

The best incentive for reforms

The EU's policy of keeping Albania and North Macedonia waiting for membership will have dire consequences, Handelsblatt comments:

“Because at some point those who are being left waiting will lose their patience and turn away in anger and disappointment. Russia, China and the Gulf states are keen to gain influence in the region and can't wait for that to happen. The arguments of the enlargement sceptics should not be dismissed: a lack of leadership and poor economic perspectives are a problem. And the EU already has enough problems. But when the EU initiates accession negotiations with a candidate it doesn't mean the candidate will become an EU member the following year. Experience shows that such negotiations last many years. Nevertheless they're a better motivation for state reforms than vague promises in which the countries gradually lose all hope.”

Danas (RS) /

Luring countries with empty promises

The EU is taking advantage of the western Balkan countries' membership ambitions to bend them to its will, the Serbian daily Danas writes:

“What should one make of the EU's enlargement policy? It's lost its reason to exist but not, it seems, its political function. In a world marked by new conflicts between the West and the East, we cannot afford to leave the so-called 'western Balkans' to potential enemies. Instead it's important to keep these 'countries (rather than the states) in one's orbit. The magic formula: put them on the path to membership but, because viewed objectively that membership is unrealistic, keep them forever on the doorstep without allowing them to enter. ... Serbia is completely under the EU's influence and nevertheless it is further from accession than it was in 2003.”