Sassoli: EU enlargement would be a positive step towards peace and prosperity

Rama for Bild: We have met the conditions, the EU has broken its promises!

European Parliament President David Sassoli has backed the integration of the Western Balkan countries into the European Union. Sassoli has said EU enlargement would be a positive step towards peace and prosperity.

“Enlargement can bring great benefits to both the region and Europe as a whole, helping to ensure a stable, prosperous and peaceful continent,” Sassoli said, according to German Funke Mediengruppe.

However, when the Western Balkan countries will join the union depends on meeting the conditions.

“Reforms are not yet complete in each of these countries,” Sassoli said, adding that the European Union must also keep its promises and recognize progress.

On the same day, Prime Minister Edi Rama in an interview with the German newspaper Bild said that the EU has “broken its promises” and is leading a rift among the peoples of the Balkans with political cynicism.

Rama said: “We are not ready to join the European Union today, nor Northern Macedonia or the rest of the Western Balkans.

There are many requirements we must meet in order to become a member. However, both our nations, Albania and Northern Macedonia, have met all the necessary conditions to really start the negotiation process with Brussels. Such a start of negotiations had already been decided by the EU Council itself in 2018.

But the efforts of our peoples have not been rewarded. The least we deserve now is the answer to our question “Why?”

When the European Commission asked Albania and Northern Macedonia to implement some reforms before the negotiations started, we did so. Some of them, such as justice reform in Albania, are unprecedented for a country that has not yet entered the negotiation process. But we made progress, and the European Commission recognized our full commitment and our extraordinary achievements on several occasions.

Let us be clear: we are not seeking to become members of the European Union tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. “Our only concern now is to receive the necessary EU assistance programs in order to grow into the role of a future member in the accession negotiation process,” Rama added.

The EU is already holding accession talks with Montenegro and Serbia, while Albania and northern Macedonia are official candidates. Last month, Northern Macedonia received the support of Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovenia to start talks with the EU. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo have so far been considered potential candidates for negotiations.

The EU enlargement process has faced major challenges, some of which have their roots in ethnic divisions in the Western Balkans. Unanimity is required from all EU members for the adoption of the negotiating framework. /ibna

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