The European Commission released its annual assessments and recommendations regarding ”Reforms in the Western Balkans and Turkey” on Wednesday. In the report, it proposes the immediate opening of accession negotiations for Albania and North Macedonia, but not for the nation of Turkey.
Federica Mogherini, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security of the EU, stated in her assessment that “the Western Balkans are Europe and will be part of the EU’s future, of a stronger, stable and united European Union.”
Mogherini noted that ”Albania and North Macedonia have shown a strong determination to advance on the EU path, and achieved results that are concrete and must be irreversible.”
”Based on that,” she noted, ”today we recommend that the Council opens the accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. The European Union’s enlargement policy is an investment in peace, in security, in prosperity and in the stability of Europe.”
Regarding Turkey, however, the Commission stated ”Turkey has continued to move further away from the European Union, with serious backsliding in the areas of the rule of law and fundamental rights and through the weakening of effective checks and balances in the political system, brought forward by the entry into force of the constitutional amendment.”
The European Commission reiterated that ”in June, 2018 the Council noted unanimously that Turkey’s accession negotiations have therefore effectively come to a standstill and no further chapters can be considered for opening or closing.”
Joining the European Union is a long and difficult process by any measure, with many levels of accession for all countries aspiring to join the European family of nations.
North Macedonia has been a candidate for joining the EU since the year 2005 and Albania has been on the list for possible EU acceptance since 2014. Accession negotiations were opened with candidate countries Montenegro in 2012, Serbia in 2014, and Turkey in 2005.
The 28 EU member states have veto powers throughout the accession negotiations, and Athens has repeatedly said that its neighbors’ road to the EU will pass only by the respecting of Greece’s interests in the region.