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The leaders of Serbia, Albania, North Macedonia and Montenegro attend a news conference in Tirana, Albania. The leaders of Serbia, Albania, North Macedonia and Montenegro attend a news conference during a regional summit in Tirana, Albania, Dec. 21, 2019 (AP photo by Hektor Pustina).

What a Freeze on EU Membership Talks Means for the Balkans

Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020

It was supposed to be a landmark year for the Balkans. In 2019, the European Union was due to give the green light to accession talks with Albania and what is now called North Macedonia. In Serbia, meanwhile, President Aleksandar Vucic saw a rare window for a lasting peace deal with Kosovo, 20 years after the war that led to Kosovo’s independence.

Yet because of a de facto veto by French President Emmanuel Macron at an EU summit back in October, the Balkans now looks as far from a European embrace as it has for years. At that summit in Luxembourg, France stood alone in blocking the start of formal EU membership negotiations with North Macedonia, while only Denmark and the Netherlands joined it in rejecting similar talks with Albania. ...

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