A man uses his phone at a flooded area in Obot village, near Shkodra, Albania March 9, 2018. REUTERS/Florion Goga
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The EU Tuesday backed the opening of formal membership talks with Albania and Macedonia as the bloc looks to expand into the Balkans and grow for the first time in years.The announcement comes a month ahead of a summit in Sofia when the leaders of six Balkan nations will be given fresh hope of eventually joining the EU, amid rivalry between Brussels and Moscow over the region.In February the EU unveiled its new strategy for the region, which aims to give membership to some states by 2025 but insists they must first resolve all border rows.Five EU countries also do not recognise its independence.Bulgaria, which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, has warned it is now or never for expanding the European Union into the Balkans as concerns grow about Moscow's influence in the bloc's eastern backyard.
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