The European Union kicked off accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania on Tuesday.
EU Commission head Ursula von der Leyen hailed the “historic moment” at a joint news conference with Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, Albanian Premier Edi Rama and North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski.
Von der Leyen praised the rule of law and anti-corruption reforms undertaken and resilience demonstrated by the two countries, terming it a “success” of their leaders and people.
The governments of North Macedonia and Albania did not implement the reforms just for EU accession, but because they are “good for your countries and are already delivering a better quality of life for your people,” she said.
North Macedonia became an EU candidate in 2005, while Albania was granted the status in 2014.
The opening of negotiations has been stalled since 2020 because of a dispute between North Macedonia and Bulgaria over linguistic and historical matters.
Following mediation efforts led by France, Skopje and Sofia signed an agreement on Sunday that paved the way for the start of accession talks.