Northern Macedonia and Albania on the path to EU?

In a video conference on Tuesday, the Europe ministers of the EU states agreed to start accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania. Just last October their bid for membership was halted owing among other things to opposition from France. After a reform of the admission procedure, however, Paris has now given the green light. Commentators are far from unanimous in their joy at the news.

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Kurir (MK) /

New leadership needed in Skopje

Kurir sees bad times ahead for former Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and the acting interim government:

“First of all chapters 23 and 24 will be addressed, which deal with the rule of law and internal affairs. This means that EU auditors will expose Zaev's extortion and corruption scandals and the like. And for you, dear Mr Zaev, that means that the gifts and political tailwind from the EU will stop. We will have to make our way into the Union with a different government at the helm. One that does not have to be ashamed about your dirty laundry.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

Like the orchestra on the Titanic

EU Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi wrote on Twitter that he was "very happy" about the start of the negotiations. Le Figaro doesn't agree:

“These words are a provocation of the elite in power, directed against the people of this continent: nothing will stop the march of progress - in other words enlargement - and certainly not your tears and your blood. They look like pure escapism. An entire world is disappearing, the corona epidemic is finally burying the illusion of European solidarity. ... The announcement of the opening of accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia now sounds like the orchestra on the Titanic. ... European leaders like Mr Várhelyi should open their eyes and prepare for a changed world rather than clinging to obsessions from a bygone era.”

Portfolio (HU) /

An important signal

The decision to start accession talks with the two countries in the middle of the corona crisis is commendable, says the business portal Portfolio:

“This is undoubtedly a major decision and an important development. At the EU summit in autumn these countries did not get the green light, partly because of France's veto. Since then, the strategy of follow-up negotiations has been revised, and now France has backed this decision. This is an important development, as this decision has been taken in the midst of a huge crisis, at a time when some are even questioning the resilience of the EU and the Eurozone in principle.”