We hope for an opening of EU accession negotiations with North Macedonia in December, Austria’s Federal Minister for European and International Affairs Michael Linhart told a joint press conference in Skopje alongside Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani.
Those excluding the Western Balkans are weakening Europe, he said, adding Austria has been and will keep insisting on start of negotiations as soon as December. “This is our request and we have been presenting this request to our EU partners very intensely in fact,” Linhart said.
Opening of negotiations in December, according to him, is not only important for N. Macedonia and Albania but also it might have a positive impact for the whole region of the Western Balkans.
Minister Linhart said that as long as Western Balkan countries are left outside of the EU, the bloc has failed the integration process. The Western Balkans in part of Europe, he stressed.
“N. Macedonia is a typical example for EU candidate, which is why Austria will be championing start of negotiations with North Macedonia,” said the Austrian Foreign Minister.
The strength and well-being of the Western Balkans, Linhart stated, is the strength and well-being of the whole of Europe.
“We want to give the people of the Western Balkans European perspective. It is necessary to encourage the integration process and for that to happen, North Macedonia and Albania should be approved to start negotiating now, as soon as December. We need to tie these countries to the EU with more active measures, such as the Erasmus measures, institutional measures in order the Western Balkan countries to be heard more clearly in Brussels,” the Austrian Minister stressed.
“I hope it will be December, but it depends on whether Bulgaria forms new government and on whether they can make a decision, a good one. As a realized yesterday, 26 EU member countries believe that December is the time when negotiations should be opened with our country. I realized this also in the EU institutions,” said Osmani.