Gabriel Escobar, the newly appointed acting U.S. Undersecretary of State for South Central Europe, called on the EU to speed up the enlargement process for the Western Balkans.
EUobserver reports that.
“To go back 20 years and see that there hasn’t been much progress on that front was a little disappointing,” he told RFE/RL, referring to the positions he held at the time in the context of the Balkan region.
“We would have liked to see more rapid integration,” he said.
Escobar said both the European Union and Western Balkan countries, which include North Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Bosnia, and Herzegovina, face challenges that must be overcome to make integration a reality but said he hoped American involvement “will help both sides get back on track.”
Earlier this year, Bulgaria blocked the start of EU accession talks with Northern Macedonia through a language dispute and historical grievances. EU rules require the consensus of all 27 members on many important issues, including enlargement.
Because Albania’s EU accession bid will be considered jointly with Northern Macedonia, Tirana was also affected by the veto.
Escobar noted that Bulgaria should not use the bilateral dispute to stop North Macedonia’s EU accession aspirations.