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EU countries mull opening accession talks with Albania and Macedonia

Staff Writer |
EU countries were discussing whether to green-light opening accession talks with Albania and Macedonia, as some member states expressed concerns about corruption and the rule of law in the two EU hopefuls.

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The European Commission recommended in April that Albania and Macedonia have made enough progress to warrant the start of EU membership negotiations.

With the recent resolution of a long-standing row between Macedonia and Greece over the former's name - with the two now agreeing to refer to the former Yugoslavian republic as the Republic of North Macedonia - the majority of EU countries are keen to open accession talks.

Michael Roth, Germany's European affairs minister, said that both countries have made "remarkable progress in the area of rule of law and the independence of the judiciary", which is why Germany supports starting the process.

"I can only appeal once again to our friends in the Netherlands and France not to stand in the way of a necessary consensus," Roth said before a meeting of the bloc's European affairs ministers.

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok acknowledged that both countries have made "important progress".

"But, at the same time, they are not there yet," Blok said. "We want to see a track record in the fight against corruption and the rule of law."

Roth said, however, he was optimistic that ministers could agree on Tuesday, noting that Germany has proposed a compromise.

"We could raise some concerns today and we could make clear that especially Albania must fulfil some preconditions to open the chapters for the negotiations," he said.

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