French Secretary of State for Europe Amelie de Montchalin, who was hard pressed to explain her decision to veto Macedonia’s request to open its accession talks in October, came out with an explanation that “no one said no” either Albania or Macedonia.

France has a position that the criteria determined in 2018 need to be fully met by “North” Macedonia and Albania. Some of the reforms are on track, but haven’t been fully realized, De Montchalin said.

France called for a thorough re-organization of the process of enlargement before it gives the approval that new candidate countries begin their accession talks. In addition, the Netherlands was also opposed to Albania, and many other countries were opposed to decoupling Macedonia from Albania, which prompted De Montchalin to describe the situation as more complex than “France against all”.

In fact we had complex discussions. There is unity for their European perspective. It is also certain that the countries need to meet all conditions from 2018. I want to say that France and the Netherlands and the other countries did not ask for reforms or conditions. We want to see the plans we had 18 months ago to be implemented. The discussion will continue between the heads of states and governments and I believe that the European Council will reach a decision or give additional instructions, the Secretary added.

One of the issues which were not fully implemented, De Montchalin said, is the Special Prosector’s Office, which was de facto abolished by the disgraced former Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva while she was in prison, without agreement between the largest parties which created the office. Talks failed when the opposition demanded that the new prosecutor it is supposed to nominate is allowed to investigate corruption allegations against the current SDSM led Government.

This reform needs to be fully implemented. This is now not the case. We shouldn’t say that France has a rigid position, this reform needs to be implemented and then we can think about opening accession talks, she added.