“In light of the limited time available and the importance of the matter, the Council will revert to the issue with a view to reaching a clear and substantive decision as soon as possible and no later than October 2019,” reads a conclusion of the General Affairs Council (GAC) that was held on Tuesday in Luxembourg. EU Member States didn’t manage to reach a deal on a date for a start of negotiations for Macedonia and for Albania. They will revert to the issue in October. This is the outcome of the meeting in Luxembourg. At the press-conference after the meeting of EU FMs, the EU’s Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, and the Romanian Minister Delegate for European Affairs, George Ciamba, whose country holds the EU Presidency, expressed regret over the decision several times and mentioned the Prespa Agreement in a positive context on several occasion. As Hahn said, it’s unfortunate that a minority of Member States were not able to support the Commission’s clear proposal to open accession negotiations with Albania and with Macedonia already today. Specifically, in the final version, it is said that “the Council strongly welcomes the historic and unprecedented Prespa Agreement, as well as the Treaty on Good Neighbourly Relations with Bulgaria, and takes good note of the Commission’s recommendation to open accession negotiations with the Republic of North Macedonia based on its positive evaluation of the progress made and of the fulfillment of the conditions identified by the Council”. As it is added, in light of the limited time available and the importance of the matter, the Council will revert to the issue with a view to reaching a clear and substantive decision as soon as possible and no later than October 2019. Asked whether there were guarantees that there will surely be a decision in October, Hahn said he couldn’t give any guarantees. According to Hahn, Member States were full of respect for Macedonia and there was a very fair and clear explanation by German Minister for Europe Michael Roth, “who told us they had an institutional problem with the German Bundestag not having time” to reach conclusions. Previously, Croatian FM Marija Pejcinovic Buric, who participated in the meeting, had said that because of certain reasons, there had been countries that didn’t agree with Macedonia and Albania starting negotiations this June, which, in her view, had been agreed at the meetings in 2018. “Unfortunately, big progress wasn’t made. The number of countries who have certain remarks about that even possible increased. We were certainly pledging for those negotiations to be opened with Albania and with North Macedonia,” she said. Her Hungarian counterpart, Peter Szijjarto, described the non-giving of a date as a disgraceful decision, claiming that countries from Central Europe had given big support and that all of them had demanded for a decision to be given right away, especially those from the Visegrad Group, but that ones from Western Europe had arguments against. Commenting on the conclusions, PM Zoran Zaev said Macedonia had received strong and unambiguous acknowledgement of the achievements over the past year. “We’ve received clear confirmation of the reforms implemented by us and of all results achieved domestically, but also praises over the Agreements with Greece and Bulgaria. That, to us and to citizens, is very significant and points to us that the joint efforts haven’t been in vain,” he wrote on his official Facebook page. It was crucial to Macedonia for the decision to be made this year, according to Zaev, with this conclusion confirming exactly that. “We’re satisfied with today’s conclusion, but it will mean full success in October, when it will be crowned with a final decision on a start of negotiations and a practical start by the end of the year,” the PM added.