The EU states ended their consultations with the six Western Balkan countries willing to join on Thursday without any concrete results. There were “open discussions”, it said in EU circles. No further progress has been made on the way to opening accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia and agreeing on visa liberalization for Kosovo, it said.

Even before the meeting, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama had expressed his frustration at the standstill. “It’s a shame that a NATO country is holding two other NATO countries hostage,” he said of the Bulgarian blockade. The other 26 EU countries put on a “terrifying show of impotence”. EU member Bulgaria is demanding concessions from North Macedonia to the Bulgarian minority.

Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) had insisted in vain on clearing the way for accession talks. He campaigned for a clear EU perspective for North Macedonia and the five other countries. It is “of the utmost importance that this is now a credible promise,” said Scholz.

“Germany will support the activities of the western Balkan states on their way to the European Union,” said Scholz. “We feel responsible for ensuring that these countries are successful in their efforts.” The chancellor emphasized that they were promised an EU perspective as early as 2003, almost 20 years ago.

Serbia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina are taking part in the Western Balkans Summit. It preceded the actual EU summit, which will discuss Ukraine’s and Moldova’s accession prospects on Thursday afternoon.