‘Give us hope’ North Macedonia tells EU

Nikola Dimitrov, the foreign minister of North Macedonia, has called on the European Union to give his country hope and a path towards membership of the Union.

“I think we’re at a stage where we need to have a decision in order to give our people hope that Europe is actually serious about our European perspective,” Mr Dimitrov told the AFP news agency after meeting with EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

The new European Commission, which took office on December 1, has been positive about the membership prospects of both North Macedonia and Albania, with Olivér Várhelyi, the new enlargement commissioner, claiming that he was confident the bloc would “move ahead and correct the mistake”, opening accession negotiations for both countries early in 2020.

The Commission has for some time said that North Macedonia has met all the conditions asked of it so far and should be allowed to start formal membership procedures. In October, however, France used its veto to block the start of membership talks.

North Macedonia will vote in a general election in April, and many commentators fear that a failure to secure the beginning of accession talks by then could lead to a rise in support for nationalist parties.