EU leaders have agreed to make the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia a candidate to join the bloc. But its entry will have to await a broader debate on how far the bloc should enlarge.
The Macedonian Prime Minister, Vlado Buckovski, has been praised for making what EU leaders call “significant progress” towards meeting the union’s political and economic criteria.
The EU took in ten new member states last year and is due to take in Romania and Bulgaria in 2007 or 2008 which is why EU leaders made clear that any further enlargement must depend on a wide debate across Europe.
Nevertheless, the deal is a major step for Macedonia, which was on the brink of civil war four years ago before an EU-mediated power-sharing agreement with its Albanian minority.