As part of his Balkan tour on Saturday morning, the German chancellor visited Skopje, coming from Thessaloniki, where he had attended the dinner of the “South East European Cooperation Process” (SEECP) Summit. After a meeting with the Prime Minister of Northern Macedonia, Dimitar Kovacevski, the Chancellor said that “the accession negotiations, which we promised two years ago, must begin now. I will support the request, in any case.” Northern Macedonia had been granted “candidate country” status since 2005, but the start of negotiations is delayed, initially due to the name dispute with Greece and now due to objections raised by neighboring Bulgaria.
Olaf Solz characteristically stated that “it is time, after the words, for projects to follow” and this “applies especially to Northern Macedonia”, which “has met all the criteria for the start of accession negotiations”. In fact, the chancellor made a brief reference to the resolution of the nomenclature with Greece, saying that “once this has been resolved, the other issues can be settled.” For his part, the Prime Minister of Northern Macedonia thanked the Chancellor for his support to Berlin and expressed the hope that at the forthcoming EU summit (June 23 and 24), his country will indeed receive the “green light” for the start of negotiations. .
“Thorns” in Sofia and Belgrade
However, the difficulties have not disappeared and this was clearly seen in Sofia, the next stop of the Solts tour in the area. “Kirill Petkov’s reformist government seems to be insisting on its objections. . German media note that Bulgaria is going through a new political crisis, as only last Wednesday the populist party ITN left the ruling coalition, with the result that Prime Minister Petkov lost his majority in Parliament. The reason for the intergovernmental conflicts was the adoption of the budget, but also the bilateral relations with Northern Macedonia.
For Olaf Solz, the most difficult mission of the last few days was probably his trip to Belgrade. In a meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, he called on him to join EU sanctions on Russia, to receive the answer that this could not be done so easily, as Serbia has traditionally had close relations with Moscow. , while at the same time its economy depends on Russian gas imports. In addition, Vucic rejected Olaf Solz’s recommendation that Serbia recognize Kosovo before it even joins the EU, saying that so far no one has demanded such a thing during the accession talks and that his country is not under pressure on the issue. nor threats. It is recalled that Serbia has been a candidate country since 2011.
Is Ukraine’s accession perspective “closer”?
Meanwhile, top European officials appear to be seriously discussing Ukraine’s European perspective, and in particular the possibility of being granted “candidate country status” at the forthcoming EU summit. with the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, on the application for membership submitted by the Ukrainian government. The same day, the Speaker of the German Parliament, Berbel Bass, called for Ukraine to join the EU. The request of Kiev to receive “candidate country status” by the end of June was repeated a few days ago by the Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament Ruslan Stefanchuk, speaking at the Plenary Session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Giannis Papadimitriou (DPA, ARD, AFP)
Source: Deutsche Welle