International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

US hopes EU will open talks with Skopje, Tirana in March, worries about Russia

February 10, 2020

Washington hopes the European Union will open accession negotiations with both Tirana and Skopje next month, and that it will consider their European road necessary, Matthew Palmer, the US special envoy for the Western Balkans, has told the Bulgarian service of Radio Free Europe (RFE), adding his country worries about an increasing attempt by Russia to influence the Western Balnaks region,

He said late on Monday that the question the European Council would face in the meeting in March was whether to open the talks with North Macedonia and Albania, the FoNet news agency quoted RFE.

Palmer said Washington hoped the answer would be yes.    

"We think both countries are deservedly qualified. We also think that it is an important signal that has to be sent to the region. North Macedonia and Albania must have a clear European path and perspective," Palmer said.

He added he was worried about the Russian influence on the Western Balkans and "its attempt to undermine the international support, regarding the agreement between Skopje and Athens that ended the 27-year-old dispute over the name which stopped Greek opposition to Macedonian accession to NATO and the EU.

"We're worried about Russian intentions regarding the Western Balkans," Palmer said.

He added that Russia "favours the Western Balkans which is fragile, split and has the elements of chaos, the region in which it can increase the tension level to use the situation and create strife between the Western Balkans and the international community."    

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a568280/US-wants-EU-to-start-talks-with-Skopje-and-Tirana-worrying-about-Russian-influence-in-region.html

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