According to the Independent Balkan News Agency (IBNA), the former Foreign Ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria have rallied behind Albania and North Macedonia and called on the EU to begin membership talks immediately.
Specifically, Ditmir Bushati of Albania, Daniel Mitov of Bulgaria, Nikos Kotzias of Greece, and Ioannis Kasoulides of Cyprus urged the EU not to prolong the timetable to the fall, as it announced on Wednesday citing requests by certain member-states.
The joint communique, as reported by IBNA, is as follows (text in full):
“The European Commission presented its Communication on the 2019 EU enlargement policy with the accompanying Country Reports on 29 May. The European Commission reiterated recommendation to the Council to open accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia based on progress achieved and the timetable approved in June 2018 by the Council.
Despite being arguably the EU’s most successful transformational policy, never before has enlargement policy been the subject of so much ambivalence within the EU.
We call upon the member-states of the European Union to support the recommendations of the European Commission to open accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. The EU accession process gives multiple possibilities to enrich democracy and socioeconomic development, to secure the rights off all the people in each country. Through monitoring and screening, the EU shall both assist and act as a partner in this procedure.
The socioeconomic growth of Albania and North Macedonia in their path towards EU accession will decisively contribute to stability, security and the development of a democratic statehood, justice and freedom of press in both of these countries.
The need to launch the accession process for both countries corresponds to the demands of their societies, their history and the region. It corresponds, nonetheless, to the needs of the European Union itself. Their accession is not doing a favour to anyone but is enriching the European Project.
We call upon EU member states, and primarily the two big ones, Germany and France, to demonstrate their sense of responsibility for the future of the European Union and Europe and to live up to their promises. We call upon them to act responsibly and not postpone the European path for the two countries. It is in this context that the upcoming European Council of June should, without ado, set the date to start negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia.”
Kotzias was instrumental in the signing of the Prespes Agreement in June 2018, which included terms leading to the future eligibility of North Macedonia for membership in NATO and the EU.