EU eyes June to begin membership talks with North Macedonia

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union's top diplomat says the bloc aims to begin membership talks with North Macedonia in June, after the country lifted the biggest obstacle to joining by changing its name last month.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Tuesday that "our joint objective is to have a green light in June to start negotiations."

The former Yugoslav republic formally changed its name from Macedonia to address concerns from Greece, which has a large province of the same name, opening the way to likely EU and NATO membership.

But North Macedonia remains locked in fierce political rivalry as EU officials urge it to keep up political and justice reforms, and to fight corruption.

Macedonia was granted EU candidate status in 2005 but the name dispute stopped the launch of membership talks.