In addition to the EU accession process, the meeting also focused on the joint fight against terrorism and bilateral cooperation, especially in times of the global health crisis. At the joint press conference, Foreign Minister Schallenberg underlined Austria’s full support for North Macedonia’s path to EU membership:
North Macedonia has become an exemplary EU candidate and I regret that it was not possible to open accession negotiations this year. Austria will continue to support the enlargement process,
explained Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg.
Austria will press for the first accession conferences with North Macedonia and Albania to take place in the first half of 2021. The EU must remain the most important player in the Western Balkans and become even more involved.
For the countries of the Western Balkans as well as for the EU, there is no reasonable alternative to the region’s European prospects. All of us can only lose if there are unnecessary delays in enlargement. The Western Balkans must not be a blank spot on the EU map,
The opening of EU accession negotiations would be well deserved, according to Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani:
There is no doubt that we are ready for this. We are constantly stepping up our efforts, for example in terms of our relations with our neighbours.
The two ministers agreed that even closer cooperation is needed, especially in times of the global health crisis. There is also still a lot to be done in terms of cooperation on migration. The tragic terrorist attack in Vienna on 2 November also showed that global threats such as terrorism can only be countered with unity and cooperation.
Today I took the opportunity to thank Minister Osmani for his country’s solidarity with Austria in the face of the serious terrorist attack of 2 November. Our authorities have worked well together in the investigation and our two countries have only grown closer as a result of this tragedy,
stressed Foreign Minister Schallenberg.
He concluded by assuring Austria’s continued support in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Austria recently pledged 2.4 million euros for the COVAX initiative.
We will do our best to ensure that COVID-19 vaccinations arrive in the Western Balkan countries at the same time as in the EU,