“We got nothing,” Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic drily summed up during a joint press conference in Brussels with his Albanian and Macedonian counterparts.
The veto opposed by Bulgaria to the opening of accession negotiations with North Macedonia for reasons of historical and cultural disputes has embittered the leaders of the Balkans.
“The Bulgarian position remains unchanged until the Bulgarian parliament takes a decision,” announced Kiril Petkov, overthrown Wednesday evening by a motion of censure.
The Bulgarian Parliament, which brought him down, could decide on Friday to lift the veto.
“All Europeans are waiting to see what the decision will be,” he said. The deputies must decide on a compromise, proposed by France. It provides for a change in the North Macedonian Constitution to include Bulgarians in the recognized ethnic groups.
“I believe that we are very close to an agreement,” declared French President Emmanuel Macron, calling on the Bulgarians “to do their duty as Europeans”.
The Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Dimitar Kovacevski, had however judged shortly before that this compromise proposal “in its current form” was “unacceptable”, during his press conference.
Due to the Sofia-Skopje dispute, negotiations with Albania are also stalled, with the two bids being linked by the EU.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama denounced the blockage and the fact that the other 26 EU members “sat and put on a frightening spectacle of helplessness”.
“It’s a blow to the credibility of the European Union”, also launched Dimitar Kovacevski.
The press conference scheduled after the summit with the presidents of the European institutions and French President Emmanuel Macron has been canceled, officially for a matter of time.
“They were very smart to cancel it. It shows that they really feel very bad about what is happening,” commented Edi Rama, who multiplied the pikes at the address of his EU counterparts. .
Western Balkan leaders have also made no secret of their bitterness at the eagerness of their counterparts in Ukraine and Moldova.
The EU granted the two countries the status of candidate for membership during the summit organized after their meeting with their Balkan counterparts.
– A solution for Bosnia –
But before taking this decision, they had a long debate on the Balkan demands. They said they were “ready” to grant the status of candidate country to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
They will take their decision on the basis of the conclusions of a report requested from the European Commission for the month of October on the implementation of a series of reforms by this country, threatened by separatist temptations.
Edi Rama advised Ukrainians to “have no illusions” about candidate status, as the process for membership will be very long.
“North Macedonia has been a candidate for 17 years, if I haven’t lost count, and Albania for eight years,” he recalled. Serbia has been waiting since 2012 and Montenegro has been negotiating since 2010.
Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, which is not recognized by five EU members, are still only “potential candidates”.
The blockages for the opening of negotiations are serious. Disputes between Serbia and Kosovo are blocking Belgrade’s aspirations. Aleksandar Vucic was categorical: there was no question of recognizing Kosovo.
Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu warned the EU against any space left for the influence of “other actors” because “it is obvious that they will use it”.
Russia, China, Turkey and the Gulf countries are gaining influence in this region whose expectations are disappointed by the procrastination of the EU.
Among the options under consideration to “re-energize” the process also included a liberalization of visas for Kosovo and a decoupling of the candidacies of Albania and North Macedonia. But they do not make consensus between the Twenty-Seven, according to a diplomatic source.
European leaders also discussed the proposal for a “European Political Community” launched by Emmanuel Macron to prepare candidates for integration.