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Dutch parliament greenlights opening EU accession talks with North Macedonia

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The Dutch parliament blocked the opening of EU accession negotiations with Albania, but it endorsed the launch of EU accession negotiations with North Macedonia

The EU summit later this month will decide whether to open negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. All decisions concerning the EU accession process are decided at the EU level with unanimity, which means that any member country can block the process. However, opening negotiations with Albania is unlikely after a large majority in the Dutch parliament prohibited such move by the government.

The Dutch parliament passed a motion Wednesday asking the government to block the opening of EU accession negotiations with Albania for 2019.

The motion against Albania’s EU entry bid was submitted by several MPs (Christian Democrats, Liberal-Conservatives, and Christian Union) whose parties are part of the governing coalition in the Netherlands. It got 105 votes in favor out of the 150 MPs of the Dutch Parliament, which is more than a two-third majority.

According to the Dutch government, Albania is not achieving tangible results in the fight against corruption and organized crime. Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said that the European Commission’s recommendation to open accession negotiations with Albania was premature. He added that Albania has not fulfilled the criteria on fight against organized crime and corruption.

The late Wednesday’s vote in the Dutch Parliament confirms the blocking of accession negotiations between EU and Albania. It comes several weeks after the parliament demanded the government to ask the European Commission to suspend the visa-free travel for Albanians in the Schengen area.

A second motion, asking the government to block the opening of EU accession negotiations with North Macedonia for 2019, failed to secure the needed backing. Majority of MPs voted to reject the motion.

The move is seen as a first step towards separating North Macedonia from the Albania-North Macedonia package in the decision-making process within the EU Council, if Netherlands asks the Council to adopt such approach during the June 18 summit in Luxembourg or the next summit in Brussels.

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Macedonia

EP rapporteur Fajon: It’s such a shame, Macron wake up!

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Tanja Fajon, Slovenian lawmaker and Rapporteur for Kosovo at the European Parliament, on Thursday slammed France’s adamant opposition to opening of EU accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania, urging the French president to wake up and EU to deliver on its promise.

“It’s such a shame. Emmanuel Macron, wake up! It’s time for EU to show political maturity and responsibility! These leaders have done their part of the work! Now it’s the Council of the European Union turn to fulfil its part and finally agree to open the accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania,” Fajon wrote on Facebook page.

The rapporteur for Kosovo at the European Parliament posted alongside photos of her together with North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Foreign Affairs Minister Nikola Dimitrov.

Earlier this week, the EU foreign ministers failed to agree on setting a date for opening the accession talks with the two Balkan hopefuls.

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Macedonia

Mickoski: It’s time to unite against these kamikaze politicians

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It is time to stand up against the harmful policies of the current government, Hristijan Mickoski, the leader of the opposition VMRO-DPMNE party, told a rally in Gevgelija Thursday night.

“Through these outreach activities, let us start a wide-ranging debate with the citizens of Macedonia to hear their real problems and then offer appropriate solutions for their real-life problems, unlike those sitting in cozy armchairs in the government premises and in Brussels,” Mickoski told the supporters in Gevgelija.

“And this is not a hollow rhetoric, this is not a philosophy, but an attempt to get closer to our fellow  citizens through interactive communication. We want to show the people that Macedonia can do better and that the politicians can behave properly – politicians who always deliver on their promises,” he added.

“We will try to show that not all politicians in Macedonia are the same, to show that the current perception that politicians are the same all over, We will show that not all politicians are liars and thieves. This is our battle, this is the battle of our generation whether we are 5, 50, 55, or 80 years old. We are all the same generation today and we share the same fate.”

“The final showdown begins today. Today I announce the great victory of VMRO-DPMNE and the Coalition for Better Macedonia. Today, I invite all those who think that Zoran Zaev’s and SDSM’s policies are wrong to join us,” Mickoski said and reiterated his call for early elections.

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Macedonia

Merkel: Giving Balkan hopefuls an European perspective will pay off

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The chances for reaching a consensus at the EU summit to set date for opening negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania are not good, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the Bundestag Thursday morning, before heading to Brussels for a key EU summit.

Chancellor Merkel said granting North Macedonia and Albania an European perspective will ultimately pay off.

The two Balkan countries are awaiting a decision on whether they can start EU accession talks, after EU ministers failed to reach anonymity on the issue amid France’s opposition.

Merkel said she will try to convince those at the summit who are not yet convinced about initiating the membership talks with the two countries, Deutsche Welle reported.

 “I have to tell you, however, that the chances of us reaching a consensus are not good,” Merkel has said.

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