At an informal videoconference of EU foreign ministers on Thursday, Romania's Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu underlined that the enlargement process must remain a major priority with the EU, agerpres reports.Aurescu hosted and moderated on Thursday, together with his Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias, an informal videoconference of the EU foreign ministers, featuring Albania's Foreign Minister Olta Xhacka, and North Macedonia's Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani as guests.
The meeting continued a strategic discussion on the Western Balkans at the Foreign Affairs Council meeting of May 10 and provided an opportunity for a substantial exchange of views on how to promote the European journey of the two candidate countries, by supporting the opening of accession negotiations.
According to Romania's Foreign Ministry (MAE), in his speech Aurescu underlined the importance of constant political dialogue with candidate countries as a useful tool to highlight progress and to facilitate, in accordance with the principle of their own merits, the achievement of common goals for advancing the European perspective. He insisted that the enlargement process must remain a major priority with the EU.
At the same time, Aurescu welcomed the "firm commitment of the Republic of Albania and the Republic of North Macedonia to their European path, illustrated both by the reform efforts undertaken and by the high degree of alignment with the positions of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy, which demonstrates the attachment of the two candidates to European values."
Aurescu delivered a message of encouragement to the two guests to maintain a cross-party commitment at national level for reforms and the goal of European integration and strengthening regional co-operation, and also to capitalise on the EU financial assistance they will benefit from moving forward, including to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The minister pointed out that only a credible EU enlargement policy, with a tangible prospect of the accession of candidate partners making concrete, measurable progress in the field of reforms, can guarantee their irreversible anchoring to European and Euro-Atlantic values.
"In that regard, the Romanian official expressed Romania's firm commitment to identifying solutions to adopt the negotiating frameworks and to organise, under the Portuguese presidency of the EU Council, the first intergovernmental conferences with the two candidate states," MAE informs.
According to MAE, discussions at the informal meeting were particularly useful and allowed for the reconfirmation of support on the part of the vast majority of EU member states and institutions for the European journey of Albania and North Macedonia, based on their own progress with reforms.
"The invited ministers from the two candidate countries expressed their appreciation for the initiative of Foreign Ministers Aurescu and Dendias and for the opportunity to make known their efforts to consolidate the European prospects, and presented their expectations, their constant efforts, as well as the challenges they face at regional level," MAE shows.
The meeting was also attended by representatives of European institutions, Secretary General of the European External Action Service Stefano Sannino, and EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue and other regional issues in Western Balkans Miroslav Lajcak.