(Brussels) The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, called “a major historic mistake” the European Council’s decision not to open membership talks with North Macedonia and Albania. “I am very disappointed”, he said, over the failure of the EU Heads of State or Government meeting in Brussels to give their green light. “It was not a question of whether of not these countries were ready to join the EU, the issue was whether or not they were candidates who would be at the level which would allow us to start negotiations”. Such negotiations usually take years. The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, also spoke along similar lines: “The overwhelming majority wanted to open accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania”, but unfortunately “there was no unanimity”.
There are currently no official reports, but we know that at least France, the Netherlands and Denmark were not ready to open the talks. “The EU will revert to this issue”, Tusk said, possibly “before the Zagreb summit in May 2020”. And he went on to add: “North Macedonia and Albania are not to blame for this. “Both these countries did what they were asked to do” in the pre-accession process. “Unfortunately”, it is the EU that is “not ready yet”. “Today I would like to send a message to our Macedonian and Albanian friends: please do not give up. I fully understand your frustration”. “The EU is a complex political entity, and it is true that sometimes it takes too long to decide”. Finally, Tusk said: “I have absolutely no doubt that one day” North Macedonia and Albania “will become full members of the European Union”. “Your place is in the EU”.