EC: There’s no change in position, EU negotiations with Skopje and Tirana to start in December

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There’s no change in the European Commission’s position, it was clarified Tuesday following confusion over a statement by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen allegedly hinting at decoupling of Macedonia and Albania for the opening of talks with the EU.

When asked at a news conference earlier in Tirana about the decoupling of Albania and North Macedonia, von der Leyen said Albania has met all conditions to hold the first intergovernmental conference (IGC) and that efforts were made to overcome the hurdles.

The response left some reporters baffled as to whether the European Commission might have changed the position and as to whether the EU institution might accept to push Albania ahead if Bulgaria keeps blocking Macedonia.

EU spokespeople clarified the statement at today’s regular press briefing.

“EU commission president is pushing for the start of intergovernmental conferences for both Albania and North Macedonia before the end of the year,” stated spokeswoman Dana Spinant. There’s no change in the European Commission’s position, she added.

The president, the spokeswoman said, voiced her commitment to the membership process of the Western Balkans in the EU and voiced her intent to work on the holding of the intergovernmental conference.

Asked whether there is progress in the efforts made to settle the dispute between Bulgaria and North Macedonia, Ana Pisonero, European Commission spokeswoman, said EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi was engaged in the process.

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