No progress at Ambassadors’ meeting in Luxembourg


No progress was made at the Ambassadors’ meeting in Luxembourg on Monday. Paris believes that more time is needed for a reform of the negotiations process for candidate countries and additional proof of the fight against corruption and judicial independence in both Albania and Macedonia. “France constantly brings back to the table the issue of solving the status of the Special Prosecutor’s Office and the cases,” multiple diplomatic sources said. According to French diplomatic sources, their country considers that though there is progress in judicial reforms and the fight against corruption in Macedonia, “it’s also important for us to see concrete verdicts in a credible and impartial manner”. FMs will try on Tuesday to reach compromise in order for the file not to be transferred to a level of PMs and Presidents because several fear that France, at a leaders’ level, could more easily influence other EU countries and convince them to support it in the blockade. France is the only country that’s against a green light for either country, the majority of Member States want a start of negotiations for Skopje and Tirana, while a small number of countries are in favour of negotiations only with Macedonia. The Netherlands is part of that group, which is an official stand of its. However, according to diplomatic sources in Brussels, the Netherlands is ready to show on Tuesday solidarity with France so that it’s not isolated if there is no decoupling from Albania. Paris is officially against decoupling, but hope exists in numerous EU countries that it would more easily yield if a decision concerns only Macedonia. In return, some Member States would accept for the fight against corruption, and/or the Special Prosecutor’s Office or the judiciary to be mentioned in the conclusions. “If there’s a deal, something will likely be added. It will not be an additional condition, but what can be mentioned is the Special Prosecutor’s Office, which France regularly puts on the table,” a diplomat from an EU country said. What remains is that a huge majority of countries are insistent on negotiations together with Albania and that no country has so far put decoupling as a proposal on the table. Diplomats said France wouldn’t do it on its own. The main problem is that the EC had proposed coupling in 2018 and this year, though it introduced a difference in the conclusions between Skopje and Tirana, adhered to its recommendation for negotiations with both to be opened. “There is no deal on decoupling. Nobody wants to be the so-called bad guy in the story. However, if there is some result tomorrow, it will most likely be decoupling. It remains to be seen whether someone would be the first to propose it and, if so, who,” diplomatic sources from the EU explained. They added that if decoupling was offered, it would be much more difficult for France to find arguments against a green light. Apart from the Netherlands, the stands of Denmark and Sweden are not clear either. They could also accept to show solidarity with France if there’s no way to find acceptable compromise on Tuesday or at the Summit. “Tomorrow will see political discussions among Ministers. Tomorrow will see political will from all sides tested. Decoupling is one of the possible compromises. It’s true that for now, France hasn’t been showing flexibility. However, the other countries are pressing. So, it will be clearer tomorrow what the political atmosphere in this regard will be,” a diplomat from Brussels said.