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EU opens membership talks with Albania and North Macedonia

Long-delayed step towards joining the bloc

19 July, 12:21
(ANSA-AFP) - BRUSSELS/SKOPJE, JUL 19 - The European Union launched membership negotiations on Tuesday with Albania and North Macedonia -- a long-delayed step towards joining the bloc.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen warmly congratulated prime ministers Edi Rama of Albania and Dimitar Kovacevski of Macedonia. "This is what your citizens have been waiting for for so long and have been working for so hard, and this is what they deserve," she said.

After years of setbacks, letdowns, and the change of its name, North Macedonia on Tuesday opened European Union membership talks even as unrest grows at home with a nationalist movement threatening to upend the process. Over the weekend, the country's government announced it had reached a compromise with Bulgaria in a long-running dispute that had served as an effective roadblock to the onset of talks for EU membership. On Tuesday, officials from North Macedonia take the first symbolic step in Brussels to kickstart the accession process with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announcing the launch of talks. The 17-year journey has been bruising, sapping many in the country of any enthusiasm for joining the bloc, according to North Macedonia's President Stevo Pendarovski. (ANSA-AFP).

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