Croatia Vows to Fight for EU Hopes of North Macedonia, Albania

(Bloomberg) --

Croatia aims to revive the European Union membership prospects of North Macedonia and Albania over the coming four months by assuaging French objections to EU enlargement, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said.

Plenkovic signaled that plans by the EU to revamp the method for evaluating aspiring members’ readiness provide an opportunity to win over French President Emmanuel Macron by a May summit. Croatia took over the EU’s six-month rotating presidency on Jan. 1.

“We’d like to find a solution unblocking the process with Albania and North Macedonia by the time of the Zagreb summit,” Plenkovic told reporters Thursday. “We have a chance to strengthen our influence in Europe and we feel responsible for supporting the European path of our neighbors in the region.”

Balkan Nations Seek Honest Answer on Their Future After EU Snub

Macron crushed the longstanding hopes of the two Balkan countries to begin EU membership talks during the first half of 2020 by vetoing the timetable last October. He said the bloc needed to tighten its vetting of countries seeking EU accession to ensure adequate respect for the rule of law.

Croatia Vows to Fight for EU Hopes of North Macedonia, Albania

The French move, supported by the Netherlands, exposed a rift with Germany and most other EU nations keen to dangle the promise of entry to safeguard political stability in the western Balkans, a politically volatile region. The stalemate led to the resignation earlier this month of North Macedonia’s prime minister, Zoran Zaev, whose pro-EU credentials left him politically wounded by Macron’s snub.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, intends later this month to propose changes to the bloc’s accession process. Plenkovic, who met Macron in Paris earlier this week to discuss the matter, sounded upbeat about the possibility of finding common ground.

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