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The EC supports the opening of negotiations with Albania

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The European Commission will recommend that the European Union open membership negotiations with Albania and Macedonia, according to a first draft document by RadioFreeEurope and RadioLiberty. 

This document is part of the enlargement European Union package for enlargement to be published on April 17 in Strasbourg and which sets out how far non-EU Western Balkan countries and Turkey are on their way to European Union membership. The European Commission has recommended negotiations with Macedonia every year since 2009, but the European Union member countries in this council, particularly Greece, have blocked talks due to the name issue, which tensed relations between Athens and Skopje, since Macedonia was declared independent in 1991. Athens has opposed its northern neighbor in using the name Macedonia, claiming it implies territorial claims in its northern province of the same name. Also, the draft document confirms that the commission for the first time recommends the opening of Albania’s accession negotiations in the EU, which became an official EU candidate country in 2014. The document emphasizes that public administration reform has been consolidated, with the goal of increasing its professionalism and depoliticisation. He also adds that further action has been taken to strengthen the independence, efficiency and accountability of legal institutions, especially by advancing in the implementation of a comprehensive justice reform. 

Agreement on remaining questions for EU questionnaire has been reached

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On January 16th, an agreement on the answers to the seven remaining questions from the European Commission Questionnaire was reached. The questionnaire will be ready to be sent to Brussels in the next few days. Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denis Zvizdić, considers this cooperation as a positive signal to the European Union especially in the light of the new strategy for the Western Balkans that the EU is preparing

Vucic on “double standards, hypocrisy”; calls urgent meeting

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After the Catalan referendum and European Commission’s position that it was illegal, “it must be clear how difficult it is to safeguard Serbia’s independence”. President Aleksandar Vucic said this on Monday in Belgrade, responding to reporters’ questions during a news conference. “The question every citizen of Serbia has for the European Union today is: how come that in the case of Catalonia the referendum on independence is not valid, while in the case of Kosovo secession is allowed even without a referendum”, Vucic continued. “How did you proclaim the secession of Kosovo to be legal, even without a referendum, and how did 22 European Union countries legalize this secession, while destroying European law and the foundations of European law, on which the European policy and EU policy are based” Vucic asked. Tanjug is reporting that Vucic went on to “publicly ask” how he was supposed to explain European integration of Serbia to Serbian citizens now – “although, without a doubt, Serbia sees its future in the EU, because of the type of society we striving towards, as well as for the sake of a better economy, and for other reasons”. “So, how come Catalonia cannot, and Kosovo can – there will never be an answer on this given to the Serbs”, Vucic noted. “This is the best example of the double standards and hypocrisy of the world politics”, said Vucic.

Juncker: Turkey is taking giant strides away from EU

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European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, in his annual keynote speech to the European Parliament on the state of the bloc, said that he saw no prospect of Turkey joining the EU “in the foreseeable future”, adding that “Turkey has been taking giant strides away from the European Union for some time”. “Accession candidates must give utmost priority to the rule of law, justice and fundamental rights. This rules out EU membership for Turkey for the foreseeable future”, he added. “Journalists belong in newsrooms not in prisons. They belong where freedom of expression reigns”, Juncker said. “Stop insulting our member states by comparing their leaders to fascists and Nazis”. Meanwhile, Juncker put a final stamp on the EU’s recently revived engagement in the Balkans, where Serbia, Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Kosovo all want to join the EU one day. With Britain now scheduled to exit the EU in 2019, Juncker said he foresaw no new enlargement of the bloc before 2020.

Western Balkans in EU? Not before 2019 – Juncker

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The conditions for Western Balkan countries to join the EU membership will not be met before the end of the mandate of the current European Commission (EC). EC President Jean-Claude Juncker said this on Wednesday, during his “state of the union” address at the European Parliament. Beta is reporting that Juncker “stressed the EU will have more than 27 member states in the coming years”. But, he said, “the conditions for the entry of a new member from the Western Balkans into the EU will not be fulfilled before the end of the mandate of the current European Commission” – in 2019. “And each time for each new member state, the rule of law will have to be fully established and the fundamental values ​​of the EU respected”, Junkcer pointed out, adding that this was “an absolute priority”. He made it clear that “this excludes Turkey’s entry into the EU for the time being”. So there could be a chance for Serbia to join the EU, but not before 2019.

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