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Tusk: EU Should Start North Macedonia, Albania Talks, But Process Will Take Time

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The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk (right), welcomes North Macedonia's president, Stevo Pendarovski, prior to their bilateral meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels on June 12.

European Council President Donald Tusk has said that the EU should launch accession talks with both North Macedonia and Albania, but warned there will be no quick decision.

"I personally believe that there can only be one decision: to launch the negotiations in line with the European Commission's recommendations," Tusk told a joint press conference with North Macedonia's president, Stevo Pendarovski, in Brussels on June 12.

Tusk said the two Balkan states had done "everything that was expected" to move their EU membership bids forward, but he added that “not all member states are prepared to make the decision on opening negotiations in the coming days."

Last month, the European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, recommended that EU accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania begin as soon as possible, saying the two countries have "delivered on reforms."

The matter is set to be discussed during a meeting of EU ministers in Luxembourg next week.

In Brussels, Pendarovski said that North Macedonia was "not seeking an undeserved award but only a deserved chance for us to build a European country with a fair, humane, and progressive society."

The president insisted that North Macedonia "no longer has any unresolved disputes with its neighbors."

North Macedonia's path to membership in both the EU and NATO was cleared after Skopje reached agreement with Greece over the former Yugoslav republic’s official name.

The Western Balkan nation of some 2.1 million people also recently agreed to a friendship pact with neighboring Bulgaria.

During a visit to Skopje on June 11, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said EU leaders should "keep their word" with North Macedonia.

Meanwhile, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama urged the EU to begin accession talks with his country, saying: “It's time for Europe to do what we expect after having delivered.”

Speaking alongside Rama in Brussels, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said it was not "mission impossible" to bring around reluctant EU states, but he said it was unlikely that accession talks would get going this month.

*A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Edi Rama as the president of Albania.
With reporting by AFP and AP
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