Portugal supports the EU membership applications of Albania, North Macedonia and Montenegro, the office of outgoing Prime Minister António Costa said on Monday after his three-country tour.
Costa, who will govern as interim prime minister until early elections in March, visited Tirana, Skopje and Podgorica on Sunday and Monday to strengthen his country’s commitment to EU enlargement. After meeting with North Macedonian Prime Minister Dimitar Kovačevski on Monday, he had lunch in Podgorica with Montenegrin Prime Minister Milojko Spajić.
The visit to these three Western Balkan countries was aimed at “expressing Portugal’s support for their efforts to move closer to the European Union, within the framework of the enlargement policy,” said Costa’s communications office. in a press release.
About his trip to North Macedonia, Costa wrote on X: “I was able to see North Macedonia’s strong commitment to the EU accession process in a difficult geopolitical context. I told him that Portugal would continue to support North Macedonia on the European path.”
Meanwhile, at the EU level, there is currently talk of “double standards” regarding EU enlargement, with these three countries now waiting years since the start of their enlargement process.
While Croatia became the first of seven Western Balkan countries to join the EU in 2013, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia and Serbia are still only candidate countries, while that Kosovo is not even a potential candidate despite its candidacy in 2022.
In the meantime, negotiations and accession talks have been opened with Montenegro and Serbia. Albania and North Macedonia have secured the opening of accession negotiations in July 2022, with negotiations in Tirana due to begin at the end of December, while Skopje is still awaiting Bulgaria’s veto.
An EU-Balkans summit will be held in Brussels on December 13.
Costa’s visit also comes days before a crucial European Council meeting in Brussels on December 14-15, where EU leaders will discuss opening formal accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova.
(André Campos Ferrão, edited by Pedro Sousa Carvalho | Lusa.pt)