EU membership talks with Albania and North Macedonia should start in March -Merkel

epa08171703 German Chancellor Angela Merkel waits to welcome Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, 28 January 2020. Merkel and Morawiecki met for bilateral talks. EPA-EFE/FILIP SINGER

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Angela Merkel said on Monday she wants a deal on opening EU membership talks with Albania and North Macedonia in March, citing “geopolitical” necessity.

“Anyone who looks at the map, who knows the geopolitical context, knows that it is good for everyone if the countries of the Western Balkans also become member states of the European Union one day,” the German chancellor said at a press conference in Berlin with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, according to POLITICO. 

Merkel said she wants an agreement to begin talks with both countries at the next European Council summit, scheduled for March 26 and 27. “We will now work hard to achieve the desired results in March,” she said.

Advocates of starting talks with Tirana and Skopje argue the two capitals have undertaken reforms to improve democracy and the rule of law — and that rival powers such as Russia, China, Turkey and the Gulf states will increase their influence in the EU’s neighborhood if the bloc does not bring the two countries closer.



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