The EU holds its first Intergovernmental Conference with Albania and North Macedonia

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“What a historic moment. This is your success and the success of your citizens,” Ursula Von der Leyen assured the prime ministers of both countries in a joint appearance in Brussels, where the German praised the reforms that these two governments have undertaken in the past recent years, but also their “resilience” and the modernization of their economies.

Albania and North Macedonia “have undertaken these changes not only because they were necessary on their way to the EU, but because they were good for their countries and are already generating a better quality of life for citizens,” added Von der Leyen.

The EU today celebrates the first Intergovernmental Conference with both countries, the first step in opening accession negotiations, and Von der Leyen explained that “we will proceed quickly” with the review of the acquis communautaire that will allow Albania and North Macedonia ” quickly become familiar” with the rights and obligations, legislation and international agreements that come with EU membership.

Progress will also be made with greater coordination in specific areas, such as Albania’s entry into the European Civil Protection Mechanism or the negotiation for the Frontex agreement with North Macedonia that will allow staff from this agency to be sent to the country. Von der Leyen assured both prime ministers that the start of the negotiations will lead to “a boost in investment, an improvement in trade links and closer collaboration in key areas.”

The Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Petr Fiala (whose country holds the six-monthly presidency of the Council), also told his Albanian and Macedonian counterparts that the whole of Europe will be strengthened thanks to the “clear decision” of both countries, “which has already been put it to the test a few times.”

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“In the face of Russian aggression, we appreciate that you are fully on the side of European foreign and security policy. We must be united now more than ever,” Fiala said. For his part, the Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama, took advantage of his speech to thank the role of Von der Leyen herself or former German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the long process of opening the negotiations, “absurdly blocked” and affected for the “perfect storm” of the pandemic, the war and the earthquake of 2019.

The Prime Minister of Macedonia, Dimitar Kovacevski, also celebrated the beginning of these negotiations with “satisfaction” after the Parliament of his country gave its approval to the proposal promoted by France and negotiated in Brussels to solve the Bulgarian veto to its accession.

Kovacevski considered “the open door” for Macedonian to become an official language of the EU as “the greatest achievement” and hoped that his country would set “a positive example for the fastest possible accession” to the community bloc, which has been its “strategic priority for decades”.

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