European Commission Expected to Recommend Opening of Accession Negotiations

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However, the commission has recommended commencing negotiations with Macedonia every year since 2009, but European Union member states in the council - most notably, Greece - have always blocked talks due to the name issue that has soured relations between Athens and Skopje ever since Macedonia became independent in 1991.

The EU foreign policy chief on Tuesday announced that they had recommended the start of accession negotiations for two Balkan countries.

The EU's Commissioner for Enlargement, Johannes Hahn, and theHigh Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, will visit Albania's capital Tirana to hand over the bloc's progress report on Albania's integration progress before heading to Skopje for talks with Zaev.

Western Balkans is part of Europe and it will be part of the future of the EU.

Hashim Thaci says that Kosovo remains committed and with "the proper will to intensify its steps toward integration into the European Union". While this is the first time Albania is being mentioned as a potential EU-member, Macedonia was suggested by the European Commission back in 2005. On the eve of the 17 April report on progress made by the six Western Balkan countries, Brussels announced that EU's support and focus on the enlargement process will not affect any form of assessment of the state of democracy, rule of law, human rights, economy, and compliance with European Union standards in each of the six partner countries in the region.

An ally of Russia, Serbia has refused to recognise its former breakaway province of Kosovo since it declared independence a decade ago.

The EU's executive arm, which monitors reform progress among countries hoping to join, said Tuesday that the two are on the right path.

The Commission said in a statement that both countries had made "progress" in various areas, but added that certain reforms are necessary.

Macedonia's membership prospects have been held up by a dispute with Greece over the tiny Balkan country's name.

The Commission wants Albania and FYROM to leave no room of doubt for their strategic orientation and commitment and to show determination and progress in order to meet Brussels' 2025 target date for the Balkan countries' final accession to the EU.

The Balkans spiraled into conflict in the 1990s as former Yugoslavia broke apart, but ethnic and nationalist tensions continue to simmer more than 20 years on.

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