“A top European Union official urged the bloc to give a green light to the start of membership talks with Macedonia and Albania later this week, stressing the importance of giving a ‘positive signal’ to the whole Western Balkan region.

Johannes Hahn, commissioner for European neighborhood policy and enlargement negotiations, made the call on June 25 amid divisions among the 28 EU member states over whether to allow membership talks with Albania and Macedonia.

The two Balkan countries hope the bloc’s foreign ministers will agree the go-ahead at a meeting in Luxembourg on June 26, which would clear the way for approval by EU leaders at a summit on June 28-29.

But EU officials were quoted as saying that France and the Netherlands may seek further conditions, such as more reforms to tackle corruption and organised crime in Albania and Macedonia.

‘I think everybody should be aware — and I hope this is finally the case — how important it is to give a positive signal to the region,’ Hahn said at an EU-Montenegro intergovernmental conference in Luxembourg.” (RFE/RL)