Several EU Members Starting Diplomatic Offensive Aiming at Date for Skopje

Several EU Member States, led by Poland, with visits to Skopje and Tirana, are starting a diplomatic offensive aiming at a date for Macedonia and Albania as early as March. As Kanal 5 TV said on Tuesday, citing sources from Brussels, a delegation of foreign ministers are planning to visit the two countries towards the start of next month in order to, as the initiative says, demonstrate European solidarity. The timing matches the period of the publication of the progress report concerning the two countries, which should be also the final formal tool before the making of a decision on negotiations at the European Council on 27 March. Warsaw’s initiative was announced by Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz. “We want to visit Skopje and Tirana from 3 March to 5 March together with ministers of some other countries that will join them. We want to demonstrate our solidarity with these two countries, maintain the pro-European stand, and show that the EU hasn’t forgotten these two countries,” he said. Macedonia’s Foreign Ministry said it was familiarised with the initiative, adding that the details and the period concerning the visit were being determined. According to the announcements, the progress reports will be released from 2 March to 4 March, when the European Commission is expected to recommend a start of negotiations with both countries. In conditions when French President Emmanuel Macron clearly said he was ready to end the blockade, it now remains uncertain what the unpredictable Netherlands and Denmark, which are sceptical towards Tirana and oppose two the countries being part of a same package, will do. “The Commission stands by its recommendation to start accession talks as soon as possible with both North Macedonia and Albania,” spokesperson Ana Pisonero said. According to Pisonero, despite President Ursula Von Der Leyen’s stand that she would like that to happen before the Zagreb Summit, it cannot be predicted how Member States will act. Caretaker PM Oliver Spasovski continued his visit to Brussels. The successful reforms and the EU’s new methodology are important steps towards a soon start of negotiations, he and European Parliament President David Sassoli assessed at their meeting, which was also attended by Deputy PM for European Affairs Bujar Osmani.