From: Alice Taylor
EU’s Chief Diplomat Said Stalling Balkan Accession Is a Gift to Russia

The EU’s chief diplomat has said that keeping Albania and North Macedonia in the waiting room of the EU is gift to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Following a meeting with Western Balkan ministers on the fringes of a larger meeting between EU foreign ministers, Borrell spoke of the need to ensure quick progression in EU accession for Western Balkan countries, particularly in the current geopolitical context.

“This situation is not only harming them, it is harming us. It is costing us and the region too much in terms of credibility and political perspective. It is a present to Russia. It is a present to Russia and an occasion to further drag this on,” he said.

Borrell added that the current delay is “unsustainable” and said he hopes the starting of negotiations will happen during the French Council Presidency which finishes at the end of June.

He noted that because Albania and North Macedonia are aligned with the EU’s foreign and security policy, this leaves them vulnerable to threats from Russia.

“Albania, Montenegro and North Macedonia fully align with our foreign and security policy decisions and, because of that, they may be exposed to more threats from Russia. Standing up with us in defence of international law may have a cost. And in fact, Albania and North Macedonia are being considered as unfriendly countries by Russia,” he added.

On the topic of visa liberalisation with Kosovo, Borrell said,  “I am also Vice-President of the Commission – have presented several times to the Council a proposal, an opinion, arguing that Kosovo fulfils all criteria for visa liberalisation. There have been visa liberalisation for Ukraine a long time ago, we continue supporting visa liberalisation for Kosovo.”

He also called for “constructive engagement and rapid progress on normalisation of relations beween Kosovo and Serbia.”

“We need to create trust. It is essential to improve the atmosphere in the Dialogue, to engage in positive actions, to create trust and avoid unilateral steps. And I hope that before the summer, we will be able to hold another meeting at the highest political level with the Prime Minister of Kosovo [Albin Kurti] and the President of Serbia [Aleksandar Vučić]. But work is still in progress.”