SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama drew comparisons on Wednesday between attempts by his country and North Macedonia to join the European Union and the absurdist play "Waiting for Godot".
Bulgaria vetoed the start of talks with the two Balkan countries at an EU meeting on Tuesday.
"This is a big disappointment and huge failure of the European Union, and a bad message to the whole region," North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev told a news conference with Rama at an economic forum in North Macedonia's capital, Skopje.
Rama likened himself and Zaev to readers of Irish writer Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot", in which two characters wait for a third character who never arrives.
"But contrary to Samuel Beckett's characters ... we are not really waiting, we are going forward, pushing and pushing ...to make the life of our people and the life of our countries better," he said.
Bulgaria has blocked the official start of EU accession talks with North Macedonia because of disputes over history and language, and has also accused Skopje of hate speech and failing to implement a 2017 bilateral friendship treaty.
"Our position is clear - European integration cannot be held hostage by bilateral relations," Zaev said, describing it as a dangerous precedent.
Albania's attempts to start entry talks have also been held up because the European Commission, the EU executive, has said Albania and North Macedonia must move forward together.
(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Timothy Heritage)