Last June we agreed to reach a clear and substantive decision on the opening of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania no later than October 2019.
The European Union stands before a strategic choice. Whether the EU decides now to open accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania is a test of the Unionís ability to deliver on its promises and look to the future.
Our world is undergoing rapid changes. If the EU is to uphold its international role and protect its interests, taking a step towards integrating those European countries that have expressed an interest and have fulfilled the requirements for starting the accession process will help achieve this.
North Macedonia and Albania did what we asked them to do. Achieving that required a significant effort from their citizens, for whom the European perspective has been a great source of motivation and determination.
There is no guarantee of success. There will be a lot of hard work on reforms along the way. Membership will not happen overnight. And both countries are aware of this. In parallel, EU cooperation will have to deepen to go along with the widening, in the mutual interest of European and candidate countriesí citizens.
We believe that now is the time to open accession talks with both countries.