The European Commission will likely recommend opening accession negotiations for two Balkan, ex-Communist countries, Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
The current government in FYROM’s capital Skopje agreed with its southern neighbour Greece earlier this year to intensify negotiations to end a two-decade-old name dispute that has blocked FYROM’s accession to the European Union and NATO.
Athens has a veto on admission to both organisations and has objected to Skopje’s use of the name ‘Macedonia’ due to fears that the former Yugoslav republic has irredentist ambitions over the historic northern region of Greece that bears the same name and which once made up the core of the classical Kingdom of Macedonia that was ruled by Alexander the Great.
The government of FYROM hopes the issue will be resolved before the summit in Brussels scheduled for July, Skopje has previously suggested that a geographical qualifier could be added to its name to differentiate from Greek Macedonia.
“Suggestions are the Republic of North Macedonia, the Republic of Upper Macedonia, the Republic of Macedonia-Vardar and the Republic of Macedonia (Skopje),” FYROM’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev recently said after a Western Balkan summit in London.
The Commission wants to open extend the negotiation to Albania and Macedonia after seeing significant progress in its talks with Serbia and Montenegro.
The EU’s Commissioner for Enlargement, Johannes Hahn, and theHigh Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, will visit Albania’s capital Tirana to hand over the bloc’s progress report on Albania’s integration progress before heading to Skopje for talks with Zaev.
The Commission wants Albania and FYROM to leave no room of doubt for their strategic orientation and commitment and to show determination and progress in order to meet Brussels’ 2025 target date for the Balkan countries’ final accession to the EU.