Belgium supports Albania's ambition to join the European Union once the relevant conditions have been met. The country could open accession negotiations with the European Union in the near future, provided that crucial reforms in the field of justice continue, and that significant progress is made in the fight against corruption and organised crime.
Belgium and Albania enjoy good bilateral relations, but trade relations remain rather limited. Belgium has a substantial community of Albanian origin, which helps to extend the ties between our two countries. Meetings between Belgian and Albanian officials take place on a regular basis. Unfounded asylum applications lodged by Albanian citizens in Belgium are a source of concern, but bilateral cooperation in this field is good. Albania falls under the jurisdiction of our embassy in Sofia.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Belgium supports Bosnia and Herzegovina's perspective of Euro-Atlantic integration, as well as a stronger presence of the European Union in the country. In order to join the EU, Bosnia and Herzegovina will have to implement a number of important reforms, in particular at the constitutional level and in the field of justice and the fight against corruption.
Belgium's relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina are good and diversified, although our economic and trade links are limited. Cultural cooperation is dynamic, and projects are regularly carried out in our country or in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Belgium was one of the first countries to recognise Kosovo's independence in 2008 and has been considerably committed to the new state from the start, in particular through NATO's KFOR and the EU's EULEX missions. Belgium supports in principle Kosovo's accession to the international organisations, provided that it meets the specific accession conditions of each organisation.
Both our countries maintain regular contacts at the political and administrative levels. The presence of the European institutions in Brussels facilitates these contacts.
Kosovo is currently a potential candidate for accession to the European Union, with which it concluded a Stabilisation and Association Agreement in 2016. Belgium supports the principle of Kosovo's accession to the European Union, but this is unlikely for the time being due to the non-recognition of Kosovo by five EU member states.
Belgium encourages Serbia and Kosovo to conclude a comprehensive and legally binding agreement in order to normalise their relations.
Bilateral relations are good. The bilateral legal framework is being consolidated.
Belgium recognised the country in 1993 under the provisional name "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" in consequence of the dispute with Greece over the name. The entry into force in February 2019 of the Prespa Agreement between Greece and North Macedonia has made it possible to settle this issue definitively and Belgium now recognises the country under the name "North Macedonia".
This agreement has also paved the way for North Macedonia's accession to NATO and, in the short term, will make it possible to start accession negotiations with the European Union, as Greece has lifted its veto on the country’s membership of these two organisations. The Accession Protocol of the Republic of North Macedonia to NATO was signed in February 2019 and the country will become a full member once it has been ratified by all NATO members.
North Macedonia is a candidate country to join the European Union and may open accession negotiations in the near future. Belgium supports the European aspirations of this country while insisting on strict compliance with the conditions set by the EU, particularly in the area of the rule of law.
Bilateral relations are good and relatively intense despite the absence of a Belgian Embassy in Skopje. The country falls under the jurisdiction of our Embassy in Sofia. Economic relations have developed steadily in recent years.
Belgium recognised Montenegro on 23 June 2006, 20 days after its declaration of independence, and has supported the country's Euro-Atlantic integration perspective from the outset. Montenegro joined NATO in June 2017 and began accession negotiations with the European Union in 2012. The country has now opened almost all negotiating chapters. Belgium attaches particular importance to progress in the area of the rule of law and fundamental rights.
Belgium's bilateral relations with Montenegro are cordial, albeit limited, and remain characterised by regular dialogue and meetings. Montenegro falls under the jurisdiction of our Embassy in Belgrade.
Belgium and Serbia have maintained diplomatic relations since 1878 (at that time the Kingdom of Serbia). Relations between Belgium and Serbia went through a difficult period in the 1990s due to the conflicts linked to the break-up of Yugoslavia. Bilateral relations are now good despite the different approach of our countries to the Kosovo issue. High-level meetings are frequent, as evidenced by Prime Minister Charles Michel's visit to Belgrade in April 2018. Moreover, trade relations are developing steadily, and a number of Belgian companies are present in the country.
Serbia started accession negotiations with the European Union in 2014. Belgium supports Serbia's European ambitions, while being attentive to certain issues such as the rule of law, freedom of the press and the problem of war crimes.
Relations between Belgium and Turkey have been turbulent in recent years. They remain strong thanks to the presence of a large community of Turkish origin in our country and the very solid economic and commercial relations. Turkey is an important partner in several areas, including migration and the fight against terrorism. As a bridge between Europe and Asia, it also plays an important role in a region which is strategically important to our continent.
Belgium was quick to condemn the attempted coup in 2016, but is concerned about the repression that followed. Belgium notes that Turkey is gradually moving away from the European Union, with the result that accession negotiations are now at a standstill and that it is not possible to envisage the opening or closing of any new chapter or to continue work on modernising the customs union. Together with all the other Member States of the European Union, Belgium condemned Turkey's illegal activities in the Eastern Mediterranean and called on it to refrain from such actions, to act in a spirit of good neighbourliness and to respect the sovereignty and sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus, in accordance with international law.