While the leaders of the 27 EU member states approved the membership bids of Ukraine and Moldova, southern Balkans states have been left disappointed that their own similar ambitions have been sidelined.
European Council President Charles Michel tweeted confirmation that both Ukraine and Moldova’s accession talks had been given the green light by the European Council on Thursday, describing the news as a “historic moment.”
“Today marks a crucial step on your path towards the EU,” he told the two nations. “Congratulations to (Ukrainian President) Zelensky and (Moldovan Prime Minister) Maia Sandu, and the people of Ukraine and Moldova. Our future is together,” he added.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen toed a similar line calling it “history in the making” that Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia had moved a step closer to becoming a part of “our European family.”
In the case of Ukraine and Moldova, there was a straightforward approval of their membership ambitions, while Georgia was given the chance to join on condition that it carries through a series of reforms deemed necessary by the EU.
The south Balkans countries — Albania, North Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Kosovo — were also present in force at the EU summit and did not hide their disappointment at being left out of the accession process, which in the case of Serbia and Montenegro has been stalled, while the other four nations seeking to join the EU have not even begun negotiations.
The most vocal critic among them was Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama who said following the summit: “You are a mess guys, you are a big mess, and you are a disgrace, and I think it’s a shame that a NATO country kidnaps two other NATO countries while in the backyard of Europe, there is a hot war and, of course, it’s not good to see that 26 other countries sit still in a scary show of impotence.”
Rama was referring to Bulgaria’s opposition to accession talks for both Albania and North Macedonia, whose membership aspirations remain stalled due to Bulgaria’s veto.