Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok has stated that his country will not support the opening of negotiations with Albania unless there is a concerted effort in the fight against corruption and organised crime.
“However, before opening accession negotiations, Albania will need to demonstrate a sustained commitment to fighting corruption and organized crime,” Blok stated in an interview for the Croatian new portal Jutarnji.
When asked about the vetoes of France, Denmark and the Netherlands against Albania and North Macedonia, Blok said that EU countries support enlargement in the Balkans in the long run. “The Netherlands’ support for this ultimate goal is unwavering,” he added.
Blok praised North Macedonia’s “progress” and Albania’s “positive steps”:
“We welcome the progress made in both countries. North Macedonia has made a lot of progress in terms of rule-of-law reforms. And the Prespa agreement between Greece and North Macedonia serves an example for the region. We have also welcomed the positive steps taken by Albania. The vetting of judges and prosecutors is particularly ground-breaking. There have been significant legal reforms, and new justice institutions have been established.”
He reiterated that it is important for both Balkan countries to continue with reforms and that the Netherlands is ready to assist these countries with their current and future challenges.
As of 1 January, Croatia assumed the rotating EU presidency and one of its key priorities is the integration of both Albania and North Macedonia.