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European Council chief confident on candidate status for Ukraine

BRUSSELS, June 23 (KUNA) -- President of the European Council Charles Michel Thursday expressed confidence that EU leaders will later today grant EU candidate status for Ukraine and Moldova.
"This is a decisive moment for the EU. This is also a geopolitical choice that we will make today. I am confident that today we will grant the candidate status to Ukraine and to Moldova," he told reporters ahead of the EU summit.
Michel said they "also have an important meeting with the leaders of the Western Balkans this morning." "There is a very strong will to re-energise the process with the Western Balkan to send a very clear and strong message," he said.
On his part, EU High Representative Josep Borrell told reporters ahead of the summit with Western Balkan leaders that "we should be launching the (EU membership) negotiation with Albania and North Macedonia today." He, however, voiced his dissatisfaction about the lack of progress on Western Balkan enlargement, adding that the EU is "not where we should be".
"There is still hope, but I donآ’t know what the Bulgarian parliament can do in the next hours but things are not going well and we should try to mend it," Borrell said in regards to the Bulgarian veto against North Macedonia.
On his part, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama criticised Bulgaria for holding up Albania and North Macedoniaآ’s EU accession path.
Rama said he was not optimistic about the summit with EU leaders, saying: "I prefer to not expect good news. It is a new day in Europe, but not in Bulgaria." On Ukraine, he said Albania had been a EU candidate country for eight years and North Macedonia for 17, "so welcome to Ukraine, it is a good thing to give candidate status, but I hope the Ukrainian people will not make any illusions about it." (end) nk.mt