European Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi warned that the delays in EU integration of Macedonia and Albania are influencing trust in the EU in the Western Balkan region. Varhelyi spoke virtually at the Sofia Forum for the Western Balkans – the event was held in Bulgaria, the country that is blocking Macedonia, and with it also Albania, from opening their EU accession talks.
Varhelyi said that the EU should treat the Western Balkan countries not as candidates, but as EU member states, and noted that the EU will invest 30 billion EUR in the region next year, which amounts to a third of the region’s GDP.

Western Balkans are integral part of Europe and need to be involved in our discussions on the future of Europe. It’s our common future. And EU enlargement is a win-win geopolitical investment in peace, stability, prosperity, democratic world, Varhelyi tweeted out while also attending the Conference of the Future of Europe in Budapest.

Macedonia is hoping that the coming new Government in Bulgaria will be able to lift the veto, but it could come at a high price, as Bulgaria demands major concessions from Macedonia in the area of national identity and history.