Merkel Reassures North Macedonia on EU Talks

After a 40-minute meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday, North Macedonia voiced optimism about getting a start date set for EU accession talks, saying that Merkel had informed Prime Minister Zorav Zaev that the Bundestag would adopt a decision supporting a start date for talks in September.

"The Chancellor underlined that North Macedonia has delivered on its expectations and that Berlin has a very positive outlook," the North Macedonia government said following the meeting.

Zaev, head of a Social Democrat-led coalition government, has said his country "has full faith in Chancellor Merkel and supports its policy on the EU enlargement process, as well as her policy towards the Western Balkans".

"There is a strong conviction that we are starting EU accession talks this year," the government in Skopje said.

The short press statement from the German government made no firm commitments, however. It noted only that the two sides had focused on bilateral relations, as well as on "foreign and European policy issues", reiterating Berlin's praise for last year's historic agreement between Athens and Skopje on the latter's name.

Zaev's visit to Berlin comes after the Bundestag last week failed to take any decision on supporting a start date for accession talks with either North Macedonia or Albania, dealing blow to both countries' aspirations.

This means that a debate on when to open accession talks with the two countries cannot be on the agenda of the European Council later this month. The issue will now have to be postponed to autumn at the earliest.

Zaev has invested much of his political capital in his past two years in power on solving the long-standing dispute with Greece, overseeing changing the country's...

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