Press Advisories

19. 7. 202212:51

Albania and Northern Macedonia commenced EU accession talks

The EU accession negotiations with the Western Balkan countries of Northern Macedonia and Albania have officially started. A historic moment for both countries and the entire EU came at the very beginning of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU. The launch of the talks was announced by EC President Ursula von der Leyen, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and the Prime Ministers of Albania Edi Rama and North Macedonia Dimitrij Kovacevski after a meeting in Brussels today.

"Both countries have long sought this step. As we all know, the main obstacle recently has been the relations between Bulgaria and Northern Macedonia. That was unblocked. I am glad that the Czech Presidency is building on the work of the French Presidency and I am also glad that I had the opportunity to attend today's ceremonial and working moment," the Czech Prime Minister said.

Achieving a result that is acceptable to all has not been easy. The two countries have been involved in terms of time and procedure in the EU integration process in recent years. In order to start their negotiations, it was necessary to find a solution to Bulgaria's demands regarding the obligations from the bilateral friendship agreement with North Macedonia. The content framework for the agreement was negotiated by France during its Presidency. During the Czech Presidency, the agreement was confirmed in the Macedonian Parliament and all the necessary procedural steps were completed.

"It is in our interest that the Western Balkan countries integrate into the EU as quickly as possible. It is in the interest of the whole of Europe and, taking into account what is happening around us and the security situation, we want the Balkans as a whole to be stable and to be part of a common Europe," Prime Minister Fiala added.

The Western Balkans region has long been a priority area of Czech foreign policy. Enlargement policy is an essential strategic tool for the EU to maintain peace, stability, democracy and prosperity in Europe.

"Full membership of the European Union is still a long way and will certainly take several more years. However, there is a great interest on everyone's part to make the process as short as possible, and both Albania and Northern Macedonia have expressed a great willingness to fulfil all the conditions in order to become members of the European Union as soon as possible. We're trying to make everything go as fast as possible. That is why we have convened intergovernmental conferences today, which are actually starting the whole process," Petr Fiala said.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Jan Lipavsk√Ĺ opened the intergovernmental conference on behalf of the European Union. For more information see the press release of the Ministry of foreign Affairs (in Czech language).