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(17 October 2019) - France blocked the opening of accession talks with North Macedonia on Tuesday (15 October), despite the promise made by the EU to Skopje that its historic name deal with Greece, the Prespa agreement, would earn it a ticket to EU membership negotiations.

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EU ministers who met at the General Affairs Council in Luxembourg discussed the opening of the accession talks to the EU with Albania and North Macedonia.

Only France blocked North Macedonia, while the Netherlands and Denmark backed Skopje but opposed Tirana’s bid.

An insider told EurActiv that France could change its position at the France-Germany summit (16 October) only in the hypothetical scenario of a major trade-off, such as Germany taking on board French ideas for the reform of the eurozone.

Many countries believe that opening accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania is of utmost importance, given the difficult geopolitical situation. Would the reformist government of Zoran Zaev be destabilised by the setback, this could only profit to the opposition VMRO-DPMNE, which may be tempted to seek rapprochement with Russia instead. In the case of Albania, the feeling of rejection could boost forces with other plans, such as the creation of a Greater Albania. (EurActiv)

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