A two-day European summit brings together the heads of state and government of the European Union to confirm the status of Moldova and Ukraine as candidates for membership of the bloc after the Russian invasion. However, representatives of the Balkans, who have been candidates for years, make it clear that they are losing patience with the long process.
In Brussels, a European summit of the bloc’s 27 members is to grant Ukraine and Moldova the status of candidate countries for accession to the European Union (EU), a request made just three months ago amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. . The president of the European Council, Charles Michel, trusts that the leaders give the green light to these two countries for their entry and described the fact as a “historic moment”.
“The European perspective for Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia (a country that will not be granted candidate status despite its application), I think will be affirmed today (Thursday June 23), and the candidate status, I think also, I am confident, it can be agreed for Ukraine and Moldova,” Michel said upon arrival at the summit.
“Today a decision is going to be made that will compromise the future of the EU, our stability, our security, our prosperity,” Michel stressed.
The EFE agency had access to the draft conclusions of the summit and it says that “The European Council has decided to grant the status of candidate country to Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova.”
This would be the first step towards the accession of these two countries, but the process could be reversible if they do not comply with the reforms that the European Commission has demanded of them: judicial independence, fight against corruption and organized crime or apply the law that limits the power of the oligarchs.
The European Council will publish a new report in December outlining whether the candidate countries are carrying out the reforms.
This haste in accepting the candidacy of Ukraine and Moldova contrasts with the slow accession process of the countries of the Western Balkans, which have been waiting for more than a decade to join the EU.
The long process for the countries of the Western Balkans
While Ukraine and Moldova view their rapprochement with the EU with hope, the leaders of the Western Balkans show their frustration at the delayed accession process they have experienced and warn Ukraine not to entertain “illusions” of a rapid process.
The reason for the loss of patience is that the states of the Western Balkans have been waiting for more than a decade for the possibility of becoming members of the EU. North Macedonia has been a formal candidate for membership for 17 years, Montenegro for 12, Serbia for 10 and Albania for 7. The discomfort of the leaders of these countries is already evident before the endless negotiations.
The statements of some leaders upon arrival at the summit suggest it. The president of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, told the media that he does not expect “anything” from the meeting when asked what do you expect from this meeting? For his part, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama welcomed Ukraine, but warned Ukrainians not to have too many “illusions” about his accession bid.
The process is stalled due to Bulgaria’s veto of the accession of Albania and North Macedonia, as a result of the historic linguistic and identity dispute, in which Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, asks Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, to Acknowledge that you have a common past.
For the high representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, Sofia’s attitude “shows, once again, that unanimity is a problem for decision-making” in the EU and asked to “reflect” on it, since ” We cannot continue with a single country blocking for months.”
In Rama’s opinion, Bulgaria’s veto is “a shame”, and he lamented that the rest of the EU countries “remain seated in a demonstration of impotence”.
Faced with the frustration of these leaders, Michel stressed that the Western Balkans are “a priority” for the EU leaders and that they really have “the political will to revitalize” the enlargement process with the Balkans.
Borrell’s “disappointment” for the blockade of the Balkans
The high representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, expressed his “disappointment” at the blockade in which the accession process of the Western Balkan countries finds itself.
“We are not where we should be with the Western Balkans. Today we should launch negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia and I cannot hide my disappointment,” Borrell said before starting the summit between European leaders and their counterparts from Serbia, Kosovo, Albania , North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.
The German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, also spoke along the same lines and recalled that “for almost twenty years the citizens of the countries of the Western Balkans have been waiting for the opportunity to become members of the EU”.
“It is of great importance that this becomes a credible promise because the many efforts that have been made have to actually lead to accession. And that is why Germany will feel responsible to ensure that these countries have a chance that the European perspective be carried out successfully,” replied Scholz.
The Heads of State and Government hold the summit with the leaders of the Western Balkans before the meeting they will hold to confirm the status of Ukraine and Moldova as candidate countries.
With AFP and EFE
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