Albania’s prime minister has said his country may seek to join the European Union in a separate bid from its neighbor North Macedonia.
Edi Rama told reporters that Tirana will demand separation from Skopje if Bulgaria continues to block the start of EU accession talks.
Albania and North Macedonia have both met the criteria to launch talks to join the 27-nation bloc, but Bulgaria vetoed the start of talks in 2020.
Sofia argued that Skopje failed to honor a 2017 friendship agreement, particularly regarding shared history and language.
Since the candidacies of the two countries are linked, the accession negotiations require the unanimous approval of EU member states.
“Albania can no longer wait for the two neighbors to resolve their dispute,” Rama said on Thursday. “Our course in this direction will completely change.”
The Western Balkan countries are at different stages on the road to EU membership. While Serbia and Montenegro have launched full accession negotiations, Bosnia and Kosovo have only completed the first stage of the process.
During a visit to North Macedonia last month, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell reaffirmed the bloc’s desire to integrate the Western Balkans, saying it was a “strategic priority”.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also said last week that talks on Albania and North Macedonia joining the EU should start as soon as possible.