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EU commissioner: EU needs to move forward with enlargement

Oliver Varhelyi, the European commissioner for enlargement and neighbourhood policy, said the EU needs to move forward with the bloc's enlargement, it cannot "waste any more time", in an interview published in daily Magyar Nemzet on Monday.

The EU’s objective has remained the same which is to start accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia, Varhelyi said, adding that relevant inter-governmental conferences were planned to begin in June. Concerning Bulgaria’s continued veto of the launch of official talks with North Macedonia, the commissioner noted the EU’s utmost efforts “to resolve the situation”. “If those efforts fail, we must consider to launch inter-governmental talks only with Albania”, Varhelyi said, adding that “a bilateral dispute cannot hold up the whole enlargement process”.

Commenting on the Western Balkans, where he paid a working visit last week, Varhelyi said the EU expected that some 651,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine it had made available to the region would significantly boost the effectiveness of local coronavirus protection measures. He said the EU was also working on providing to the region other types of vaccines authorised within the bloc.

Asked whether the EU would supply vaccines to the countries included in its neighbourhood policy, Varhelyi said the plan was to provide vaccines to the eastern partners, preferably under a scheme similar to deliveries to the Western Balkans.

“In addition, the European Commission plans to supply in the near future about 1.5 million doses of vaccines to the East with the help of the Polish government acting as mediator. Another piece of good news is that Hungary will help Poland with the initiative,” Varhelyi said, noting Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto’s letter offering to the EC Hungary’s contribution to help deliver the vaccines to the region by air.

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