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Albania could push for solo EU membership bid, says PM Edi Rama

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By AP  with Euronews
Edi Rama speaks during a press conference in Tirana in December.
Edi Rama speaks during a press conference in Tirana in December.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Franc Zhurda   -  

Albania’s prime minister has said that his country may seek to join the European Union in a separate bid from its neighbour North Macedonia.

Edi Rama told reporters that Tirana will ask for a separation from Skopje if Bulgaria continues to block the launch of EU accession talks.

Both Albania and North Macedonia have fulfilled the required criteria for launching talks to join the 27-nation bloc, but Bulgaria vetoed the start of talks in 2020.

Sofia has argued that Skopje had failed to honour a 2017 friendship deal, particularly regarding shared history and language.

Since the two countries’ bids are linked, accession talks require unanimous approval from EU member states.

“Albania cannot wait any longer for the two neighbours to resolve their quarrel,” Rama said on Thursday. "Our course in that direction will fully change.”

Western Balkan countries are at different stages on the path to EU membership. While Serbia and Montenegro have launched full membership negotiations, Bosnia and Kosovo have undertaken only the first step in the process.

During a visit to North Macedonia last month, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell reaffirmed the bloc’s desire to integrate the Western Balkans, saying it’s a “strategic priority".

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also said last week that talks on Albania's and North Macedonia's EU accession needed to start as soon as possible.