The EU member-states were at odds Monday over starting negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia to enter the bloc, while Cyprus threatened to veto any agreement on future enlargement unless the EU toughens its line on Turkish drilling.
EU ministers from the bloc’s 28 states will meet in Luxembourg today to discuss starting accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. Last year, North Macedonia sealed a landmark deal with Greece, EU member, ending a perennial dispute. The deal prompted public call by many EU states to reward the country.
At stake is also the EU’s own credibility and the bloc’s willingness to act against what it sees as growing influence by Russia and other foreign powers in the region still scarred by wars fought along religious and ethnic lines in the 1990s.
But national diplomats preparing the Tuesday meeting failed to reach an agreement on a joint legal statement, which needs unanimous backing of all EU states to be approved.
“There has been a massive disagreement and it’s not sure at all that ministers tomorrow will be able to find an agreement,” an EU diplomat is quoted by Reuters as saying.
Rifts persisted on the latest draft text, including where it would say that enlargement would also depend on the EU’s ability to reform itself and effectively integrate any new members.
The latest – but still disputed – draft, which was seen by Reuters, would push any decision on North Macedonia and Albania to October and after the German parliament is due to look into the matter.
Arrest warrant issued for Spasov
Former special police officer Igor Spasov, who has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for murdering Martin Neskoski, is wanted on recall to prison after going missing.
Macedonian police issued an arrest warrant on Tuesday after he failed to show up to begin his sentence. The arrest warrant has been published on the web-site of the Ministry of Interior.
The former member of special police force vanished after ignoring summons to serve time after he was sentenced in prison on murder charges.
The man had probably fled justice to avoid serving a 14-year jail sentence for a murder conviction. He was to report to Idrizovo correctional facility on 18 October.
The murder took place during a late-night celebration of VMRO-DPMNE’s victory in 2011 parliamentary elections.
Matthew Palmer due in Skopje today
The US Secretary of State’s Special Representative for the Western Balkans, Matthew Palmer, will visit North Macedonia on Tuesday.
Special Representative Palmer is scheduled to meet with Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov, Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a press release.
The two are expected to discuss the bilateral relations between North Macedonia and the United States, including the US support for the country’s integration into the Euro-Atlantic community. They will exchange views on the situation in the country and the region.
In late August, the U.S. State Department appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary Palmer as special envoy for the Western Balkans with a mandate to help integrate the region into Western institutions.
US Secretary of State has appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew Palmer as his Special Representative for the Western Balkans. In this role, Palmer will lead our efforts to strengthen U.S. diplomatic engagement in support of peace, stability, and prosperity in the region and focus on integration of the Western Balkan countries into Western institutions.
Zaev: We can give argument to reassure Macron
We can give arguments to reassure President Macron that “methodology prior to enlargement” proposal could be converted into “enlargement along with change in methodology”, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev wrote on his Facebook page, alluding to France’s Emmanuel Macron’s initiative for new enlargement methodology.
“We are not only a strategic interest, we are Europe. It means we will become a member of the European Union once we wrap up the comprehensive reform at home. The pre-accession process and closure of chapters will help us make it happen. The accession negotiations will help us wrap up domestic reform,” Zaev wrote on his Facebook page.
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