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HR/VP Borrell Led the EU Delegations in Councils with Albania and North Macedonia and Facilitated the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue

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High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell travelled to Albania and North Macedonia on 15-18 March. He participated at the first ever EU-Albania and EU-North Macedonia Stabilisation and Association Councils that took place in the region. In Ohrid, North Macedonia the HR/VP facilitated the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, where the parties agreed on details for the implementation of the Agreement to the normalisation of relations.

Belgrade and Pristina agreed on the Implementation Annex of the Agreement on the Path to Normalisation of Relations
High Representative Borrell facilitated a High-level Meeting of the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue in Ohrid, North Macedonia with President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić and Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti on Saturday 18 March. The High Representative was supported by EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajčák. After 12 hours of negotiations the Parties agreed on the implementation of the implementation Annex of the Agreement on the Path to Normalisation of Relations between Kosovo and Serbia, which is foreseen to become integral and binding part of the respective European paths of the Parties.

As High Representative commented:

“We have a deal. Kosovo and Serbia have agreed on the Implementation Annex of the Agreement on the path to normalisation of relations. The parties have fully committed to honour all articles of the agreement and implement their respective obligations expediently and in good faith.”

HRVP added: “It is clear that both Parties will gain significant benefits from this Agreement. Because the Dialogue is not only about Kosovo and Serbia. It is about the stability, the security, the prosperity of the whole region.”

Albania and North Macedonia: unequivocal commitment to the countries’ EU membership perspective
In Albania and North Macedonia the High Representative led the EU delegations at the respective Stabilisation and Association Councils, which for the first time ever took place in Tirana and Skopje. Josep Borrell stressed the unequivocal commitment of the EU and the two countries’ EU integration. He also focused on current challenges and cooperation in particular in the area of foreign and security policy. The European Commission was represented by Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Oliver Várhelyi.

During his visit to Tirana, Albania on 15-16 March HR/VP Josep Borrell held meetings with political authorities, including Prime Minister Edi Rama, Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Xhacka and Minister of Defence Niko Peleshi. HR/VP Borrell remarked: “We [the EU] are sending a strong political signal of our commitment to Albania’s path to the European Union.” On Albania’s commitment to necessary reforms, particularly in the justice sector, Josep Borrell also emphasised that “Albanian institutions should speed up reforms, building on the massive support of the Albanian people for the EU integration.”

The High Representative commended Albania’s 100% alignment with foreign policy decisions of the EU, including the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He reiterated the EU’s continued support for Albania, including measures to boost its resilience against hybrid threats, cyber-attacks and information manipulation. The High Representative announced that €80 million in energy support, as pledged by President von der Leyen will become available soon.

In Durrës, the HR/VP visited the Venetian tower, a landmark cultural heritage site damaged in 2019 earthquake, which was rehabilitated with EU support. Josep Borrell also held an exchange with young people from Albania on their role in transforming society toward the EU accession of Albania.

The High Representative continued his visit to North Macedonia on 16-18 March. In Skopje, he met with several authorities including President Pendarovski, Speaker of Parliament Xhaferi, Prime Minister Kovačevski and Defense Minister Petrovska.

The High Representative confirmed the importance of the EU relations with North Macedonia as a future EU member state. On North Macedonia’s alignment to the EU foreign and security policy, the HR/VP said: “North Macedonia showed unequivocal support for the EU foreign policy. Also as chair of the OSCE North Macedonia is defending European values”. The High Representative confirmed EU support on hybrid, cyber security and fight against disinformation and announced €9 million assistance from the European Peace Facility for upgrading the army’s equipment.

The High Representative discussed the urgency to continue with EU reforms for the benefit of country’s citizens. He met and the leaders of the political parties of North Macedonia and encouraged them to overcome their divisions and work together on the steps towards the EU. The High Representative also met with soldiers of North Macedonia who participated in EU CSDP missions to thank them for their contribution to our joint European security.

Source : Eeas

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