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Merkel to push for Albania, N. Macedonia EU talks

January 27, 2020

Membership of the EU would be just as beneficial to the bloc as it would be for Albania and North Macedonia, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stressed. Talks could begin as early as March.

Angela Merkel meets Albania PM Edi Ram
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Sohn

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday she would push for a start to European Union accession talks for Albania and North Macedonia.

"Above all, we want to reach an agreement at the next European Council in March to start accession negotiations with Albania, and also with North Macedonia," she told reporters in Berlin at a meeting with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama.

Read more: EU's broken promises in the Balkans lead to rocky road in 2020

"Both countries have achieved a lot," she added. "We will now work hard to achieve the desired results in March."

Merkel said that the Balkan nations joining the EU would be beneficial both for them and for the bloc, mentioning the geopolitical advantages of the countries joining.

North Macedonia planning to join EU

Concerns over corruption

A devastating earthquake in Albania in November saw the EU offer solidarity and financial aid to the small country.

North Macedonia was known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia until 2019. Both have been considered candidates for EU membership since 2005. 

Read more: Balkan nurses headed to German hospitals: A lush business for intermediaries

Bribery and corruption allegations have so far hampered the chances of either country entering the bloc. Merkel pointed out that Albania was in the process of a major reform of its justice system.

Nevertheless, several prominent EU figures, like French President Emmanuel Macron, have opposed their joining.

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ed/rt (dpa, AFP, Reuters)