France is not against, but for opening the negotiations, but we need two conditions to be fulfilled. For North Macedonia one of the issues is Special Prosecutor Office, and for Albania justice reform, these are important issues, Director for Continental Europe at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France Frédéric Mondoloni told European Western Balkans.
It is not only about the French position. The European Council has been divided on this issue, some of the countries are advocating for the opening of negotiations for the two countries, other ones want opening of negotiations for only one country. Some countries want bilateral issues to be put in the process, Mandoloni said answering a question about France being against opening negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania.
He stressed that France also wants the EU enlargement procedure to be reformed, as right now it does not make it possible to for rule of law issues to be taken into account, which, as he says, is a clear problem, not just with candidates, but with some countries inside the EU.
We need to reform that policy and this is an ambitious program, and also a commitment of the French President. Current French President committed to the European perspective, but he wants it to be credible, and he wants Western Balkans to be a part of the club that is functioning, Mandoloni said.
Asked what kind of message is being sent to the other Western Balkans governments with no decision being taken to start negotiations on North Macedonia, which made significant steps to resolve bilateral issues primary regarding name dispute with Greece, Mandoloni says “they need to be serious about the reform”.
Prespa Agreement is significant step forward, we made that clear, we are encouraging the parties, but it is not the only condition set out in June 2018 for accession process to be opened. We discussed this issue last year, and we will do that again this year, he said.
He underlined that “this is not the end of the story, it is not end of the process” of enlargement.
Western Balkans has the EU perspective and we are actively working in that direction. We need to be credible and responsible, Mandoloni said.