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Brunei
Friday, August 19, 2022
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Friday, August 19, 2022
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    Bulgarian political crisis casts shadow over Balkans summit

    BRUSSELS (AP) – A Bulgarian government crisis yesterday threatened to tarnish a European Union (EU) summit that was intended to bolster the EU membership hopes of Balkan countries and to show Western resolve in the face of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

    Bulgaria’s parliament voted no-confidence on Wednesday in the coalition government of Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, presenting an obstacle to the long-delayed start of the EU’s accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania.

    All three countries belong to NATO, but Bulgaria has used its status as an EU member to block the other two from proceeding on the path to join the 27-nation European bloc.

    Bulgaria has a dispute with North Macedonia over ethnicity and language, and its stance has also stalled Albania’s progress because the EU is treating the pair as a political package.

    “It’s a disgrace that a NATO country – Bulgaria – kidnaps two other NATO countries, namely Albania and North Macedonia, in the midst of the hot war at Europe’s backyard,” Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said as he arrived for the EU-Western Balkans summit in Brussels.

    Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Kiril Petkov. PHOTO: AP

    “It’s not good to see that 26 other countries sit still in a scary show of impotence.”

    The EU, a political and economic club that boasts the world’s biggest single market, wants to reassure countries in the Balkans that have waited years for admission that the bloc’s doors remain open.

    Russia’s war in Ukraine has added to the list of aspiring EU members. The governments of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia rushed in membership applications after Russia invaded its neighbour.

    EU heads of state and government meeting in Brussels for a two-day summit starting yesterday plan to consider whether to make Ukraine a candidate for membership, the first step in the accession process.

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