EU Parliament head urges for Balkan membership talks

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European Parliament President David Sassoli gestures while talking to the media on a joint news conference with North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, following their meeting in the government building in Skopje, North Macedonia, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. The President of European Parliament David Sassoli has offered comfort to North Macedonia after recent failure this country to start membership talks with European Union. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — The head of the European Parliament says there is still hope for Balkan countries to join the European Union, and urged for membership talks to open soon with North Macedonia and Albania.

David Sassoli made the comments during a speech to North Macedonia’s lawmakers in Skopje on Tuesday, noting that “we share your bitterness and disappointment” over the bloc’s failure to start membership negotiations with the two countries after some EU members, led by France, blocked the process last month.

North Macedonia has been an EU candidate since 2005, and after 11 consecutive positive recommendations from the European Commission is still waiting to start entry negotiations.

Sassoli said “there is still a hope” for both countries to start membership talks, describing the current situation as a “historic standstill.”

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