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Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia could snub EU integration summit

Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia could snub EU integration summit

The presence of Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia at a Brussels summit tomorrow on integration with the EU is in doubt. 

It comes amid frustration in the region about progress on joining the bloc. 

All three countries have been given the status of candidates for EU membership but neither has made significant progress in recent years. 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said he had discussed whether to attend the summit with the leaders of Albania and North Macedonia. 

He said the trio would announce their decision at noon on Wednesday. 

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Kosovo are still expected to attend.

“It seems that another ‘No, sorry!’ is gonna be what we will hear at the end!” tweeted Edi Rama, Albania’s prime minister. “The whole Union kidnapped by Bulgaria it is not a good spectacle to watch! What to do there?!”

The summit is scheduled to take place on Thursday morning — ahead of a general meeting of the European Council — and is meant to address progress on EU integration and the war in Ukraine.

North Macedonia received candidate status in 2005, Serbia in 2012 and Albania in 2014.

Out of the three, only Serbia has started formal accession talks.

North Macedonia and Albania, whose respective bids are considered to be “coupled”, have been waiting for more than two years to see the official start of negotiations.

The blockade stems from the veto of Bulgaria, which has a number of historical and cultural demands on North Macedonia. Bulgaria’s new prime minister, Kiril Petkov, has signalled his intention to lift the impasse, but his plan has caused rifts within the ruling coalition.

Beginning EU membership talks requires unanimity between the 27 EU member states.

The Balkan meeting is set to take place ahead of an EU council meeting where member states are likely to endorse giving EU candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova.

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