Italian president backs North Macedonia’s EU membership bid

SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — Italian president Sergio Mattarella on Friday joined a long list of officials voicing support for North Macedonia joining the European Union together with other Western Balkan countries.

“Without the entry of the countries from the Western Balkans … unification of the continent will not be completed,” Mattarella said at a press conference in Skopje with North Macedonia’s President Stevo Pendarovski.

Six Western Balkan nations are at different stages on their paths toward membership of the 27-member EU. North Macedonia and Albania started membership negotiations in July, while Serbia and Montenegro have made the greatest progress.

For all, the process — seen as important in diminishing Russian influence in the region — is expected to take years.

Mattarella paid an official visit to North Macedonia Friday for talks with the country’s leadership, and addressed lawmakers in Parliament.

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