FMs Petricek, Szijjarto, Czaputowicz and Lajcak call for Accession talks

In a joint open letter, Tomas Petricek, Czech FM, Peter Szijjarto, Hungarian FM, Jacek Czaputowicz, Polish FM, and Miroslav Lajcak, Slovak FM, call for accession talks with Macedonia and Albania. “The decision by the European Union over whether to launch accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania comes at a time the bloc is facing numerous challenges. However, the issues before us (Brexit, migration, instability in the neighborhood, the start of the new European Commission) must not distract us from what the EU has been able to achieve in the western Balkans — and what we can still accomplish by sticking to the commitments we made in the region. Twenty years ago, the disastrous and bloody wars following the breakup of the former Yugoslavia finally came to an end. Significant parts of the region lay in ruins. The new countries of the western Balkans and their societies were devastated and needed a hand in getting out of the quagmire they had sunk into. The EU, itself a result of a peace project, understood that in order to stabilize this part of Europe it needed to motivate the governments of the western Balkan countries to rebuild, reform, and democratize their states and societies. The region also needed to unite around a common goal that would spur cooperation and facilitate reconciliation. That is why the wise decision to promise the prospect of EU membership to all the countries of the western Balkans was made at the Thessaloniki Summit in 2003 — just months after the accession treaties with 10 new EU member states had been signed in Athens. This historic commitment, repeated at the EU-western Balkans summit in Sofia in May 2018, reconfirmed the EU’s determination to spread stability, security, democracy and prosperity throughout the Continent and ensure a common European future. Today, 16 years after Thessaloniki, we are pleased to observe that enlargement has proved to be one of the most successful EU policies. The progress made by the western Balkan countries is impressive. They have transformed their economies, judiciary, public administration and security apparatus. We must not forget, however, that this progress would not have been possible without the clear prospect of EU membership. The goal of joining the EU serves as a powerful motivator for the governments and citizens of the western Balkan countries to undergo needed but often painful reforms. We cannot be oblivious to this reality and look for excuses not to move forward with the EU integration process. As the EU decides whether to start accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania, it is important to note that both countries have met the criteria the EU set out for them, by putting in place complex domestic reforms. Moreover, North Macedonia has concluded the historic Prespa Agreement with Greece, resolving the long-standing dispute over the country’s name. In recognition of this impressive progress, the European Commission issued an unconditional recommendation in May 2019 to launch negotiations on EU membership with both countries,” they write, among other things in the text, which can be found at