Várhely: Skopje and Tirana should start EU talks by May 2020

Hungarian Olivér Várhely, who is the Commissioner-designate for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, for two an a half hours on Thursday was speaking at a hearing where MEPs had to test his general competences to do his job in the coming five years.

In his opening remarks, Várhely said he would do his best to convince the EU members that the two hopefuls, North Macedonia and Albania, should be allowed to start negotiations with the EU ahead of the Zagreb Summit in May 2020.

Three countries, namely France, the Netherlands and Denmark, object to the enlargement process, according to him. Expressing full support for the European perspective of North Macedonia and Albania, Várhely said he hoped that if approved to assume the post of EU commissioner for enlargement, Skopje and Tirana would be likely halfway through the negotiations process by the end of his term.

On North Macedonia, the Hungarian diplomat noted that majority of EU leaders had visited Skopje ahead of the 2018 name referendum, promising the country the opening of accession talks if the referendum was to be successful.

“What is at stake here is the EU’s credibility in the region and beyond,” Várhely said while being heard by the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET).