The Netherlands will not support EU accession talks for Albania and Macedonia because it is still too early to begin negotiations with the two Balkan states, foreign minister Stef Blok said on Tuesday.
Speaking during a meeting of EU ministers in Luxembourg, Blok said he hoped accession would be possible one day.
However, before this could happen, Blok said he wanted to see progress in terms of the rule of law and the battle against corruption. ‘These are extremely important issues,’ the minister said.
The European Commission in April proposed starting talks with both aspiring EU members, saying enough progress had been made in dealing with corruption and crime.
However, at Tuesday’s meeting, foreign ministers agreed to delay the start to any talks until next year.
Albanian nationals living in the Netherlands have been campaigning to get Dutch support for the accession talks.
Some 800 people signed a petition asking the Netherlands to vote in favour. ‘This
will have positive implications for all Albanians, including those who live and contribute to the Dutch society,’ the petition said.