German Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed, after meeting with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama in Berlin on Monday, the German government's support for opening European Union accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia, announcing that she would push hard for this at the European Council meeting in March.
"Germany's goal is to reach an agreement to start accession talks at the next European Council meeting in March," said Merkel after a meeting with THE Albanian PM Rama in Berlin.
She said that the accession of the Western Balkan countries to the European Union is not only in the interest of those countries but also of the entire EU.
"Anyone familiar with the geopolitical relations knows that it is good that Western Balkan countries become EU members one day," said Merkel.
The German Chancellor pointed out that even at the last EU summit Berlin was in favour of unblocking the start of accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia.
"We will continue to work intensively on the issue to achieve the desired results in March," said Merkel.
She also praised the progress of both countries, especially in the area of judicial reform, where "much has already been achieved."
The start of accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia in October was postponed due to opposition from France, which is calling for "structural reforms" when it comes to the EU enlargement process.
Opening accession talks should also be the topic of the EU-Western Balkans summit, to be held in Zagreb at the beginning of May as part of Croatia's EU Council presidency.
Both Merkel and Rama also pointed to a donors' conference in February, where Albania should be provided with funds to repair damage caused by the deadly earthquake in November last year.