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 Full text 
Wednesday, 23 October 2019 - Strasbourg Provisional edition

Opening accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania (debate)

  Kati Piri, on behalf of the S&D Group. – Madam President, let me also welcome Mr Xhaferi, the Speaker of the North Macedonian Parliament here in our House today.

I wish I could give a different speech today. North Macedonia and Albania have worked hard over the past years to meet all the conditionality criteria and to implement difficult and necessary reforms. Both countries kept their promise and fulfilled their share. It was now time for the EU to deliver and to open accession negotiations. North Macedonia has been a candidate for a total of 14 years and the Commission has given the green light for accession talks for the past 10 years.

The toughest negotiations, on its name, led to the historic Prespa Agreement and it took real political courage and real leadership, by both North Macedonia and Greece, to put an end to a 27-year dispute. As sad as it is to say, this is exactly what European leaders did not have – or perhaps, precisely, the French President did not have. Mr Macron did not show the same leadership and the same political courage. The EU had the opportunity to finally show responsibility and political maturity but we failed, miserably, and this failure damages the image of the European Union in the Western Balkans.

The EU often raises its voice on issues where, sadly, we are unable to make a difference. The European Council made us silent on the only political choice where we could have made a difference and I’m sorry to say it but the Zagreb Summit in May 2020 is too little and too late.

Last updated: 18 November 2019Legal notice