RIGA - The unanimous decision of the European Union's member states to open accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania is a significant signal to the region which has become a geopolitical battlefield for the EU, Russia and China, Sandra Kalniete, a European Parliament member and vice-president of the European People's Party (EPP) Group, told LETA.
The Latvian MEP noted that Turkey and Saudi Arabia are also attempting to increase their influence in the region. The European Commission has repeatedly recognized that both North Macedonia and Albania have met all the conditions for starting accession talks with the EU. Nevertheless, several member states - France, the Netherlands and Denmark - had their objections and they blocked the accession talks, Kalniete said.
She underlined that EU member states promised the Western Balkan countries an accession perspective already already at the Thessaloniki Summit in 2003. "I remember this well, because I was foreign minister at that time and took part in that summit," Kalniete said.
The MEP said she was glad that EU member states had finally managed to agree on starting the talks, which shows that the EU is able to function, even despite the emergency brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. "Now, it is important that the opened talks take place according to a clear schedule and the assessment of Albania and North Macedonia is based on clear criteria," the Latvian politician said.
The EU's European affairs ministers agreed on Tuesday to open talks with North Macedonia and Albania on their accession to the EU.