The European Union (EU) launched accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania on Tuesday, the EU Council said.
The EU started its Intergovernmental Conferences (IGC) with North Macedonia and Albania, marking the opening phase of the accession negotiations, the EU Council said in two separate Twitter posts.
"Today's start of the accession talks does not make dreams a reality, but it makes the reality a better place to pursue dreams," Albania's Prime Minister Edi Rama said in his speech at the IGC with Albania streamed by the EU Council.
"This is a result of the big decision that the citizens made through their deputies in the Parliament in the past days, where we very clearly said that we are a country that is Europe in miniature and which belongs to the EU in terms of civilization, history and in every other way," North Macedonia's prime minister Dimitar Kovacevski told a news conference streamed on the government's YouTube channel prior to North Macedonia's IGC.
On Saturday, North Macedonia's parliament voted in favor of the French proposal which removed a Bulgarian veto on membership talks. Under the proposal, North Macedonia has to acknowledge in its constitution a Bulgarian minority and banish hate speech against Bulgaria before moving to the next phases of the accession negotiations.
The deal also unblocked Albania's start of EU membership negotiations, as the two countries are coupled with their bids for EU accession.
North Macedonia has held EU candidate status since 2005, while Albania was awarded its EU candidate status in 2014.