North Macedonia PM Zoran Zaev on Official Visit to Brussels to Discuss EU Accession Process
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev will meet today at EU Headquarters in Brussels with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Parliament President David Sassoli, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, EC Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans and with EU Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Oliver Varhei.
Zaev's meetings with senior European officials, accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Dimitrov and Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani, are expected to discuss Macedonia's accession process to the European Union, the Bulgarian veto, and recent statements by the European Commissioner. Varheji said that it is possible to separate Skopje and Tirana on the European path.
Varheji, last week, first during a visit to Skopje, and then in a statement to Euronews, said that it was possible for Brussels to open accession talks only with Albania, if the Bulgarian veto remains and a mutually acceptable solution is not found between Macedonia and Bulgaria. . Varhei was denied by senior officials in Germany and Slovakia, who said the EU was not preparing to separate Macedonia and Albania. Berlin, Bratislava, but also Vienna and some other EU members are determined for Skopje and Tirana to start negotiations together.
Before leaving for Brussels, Prime Minister Zaev said that he expects the EU to reaffirm European values and deliver what it promised for the implemented reforms in Northern Macedonia. In a statement for "Euronews" he said that the candidacy of S Macedonia is a test of the credibility of the European Union in the Western Balkans, on whether the EU will keep its promises.
In an interview with "Kathimerini", in the context of the Bulgarian blockade, Zaev stressed that for Northern Macedonia, for the Macedonian people, any intervention in the Macedonian identity is unacceptable.
- In the 21st century, determining the history of another nation is not in line with the European spirit, because we need to build a future together. For Northern Macedonia, for the Macedonian people, for all citizens of our country, any intervention in the Macedonian identity is unacceptable. The process has been going on for a long time, we do not want to stop and we will not stop, but we will not endanger our dignity and our identity. I believe that we will find common solutions with Bulgaria and build a quality future for us and future generations, the Prime Minister explained, emphasizing that the past should not be forgotten, but "bridges of cooperation should be built between all Balkan countries, because it is the only a path to success " said Zaev.
Deputy Prime Minister Dimitrov, yesterday at the celebration of Europe Day with EU Ambassador David Gere in Skopje, said that he expects to hear the position of the European Commission in Brussels today.
- It is obvious that the vast majority of member states want us and Albania to start negotiations as soon as possible. My understanding is that this is the position of the EC, which in fact recommended it in its report and enlargement package from October last year. Northern Macedonia met all the conditions and everything it had to do in line with European principles. The start of negotiations is an absolutely deserved thing. The Macedonian story is a test of whether we can trust the EU in relation to the entire Balkans. Hope comes from Northern Macedonia and that is why the decisions that will be broken around us will have a reflection on the whole region, said Dimitrov.
Ambassador Gere pointed out that the position of the EC is absolutely clear - from the very beginning the Commission wants to see the holding of the first intergovernmental conferences with both Northern Macedonia and Albania, as soon as possible.
Regarding the dispute with Bulgaria, he sent a message that the EU supports finding an acceptable solution.
- The European Union encourages both sides to reach a mutually acceptable solution. Regarding the issue of separation of Northern Macedonia from Albania, it was raised during the visit of Commissioner Varheji. He reiterated that the European Commission is working to schedule an intergovernmental conference with the two countries - with Northern Macedonia and Albania. However, he said that we have not reached that point yet. Of course, secession is also an issue for the Council of the EU to address. And, of course, there are the 27 member states that address that issue, said Gere.
On Saturday, on the eve of Europe Day, Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani said that he did not think that Northern Macedonia and Albania would be separated on the road to the EU, that it was a wrong debate, and that we should not give up. from the possibility of holding an intergovernmental conference in June and starting talks and a possible technical government in Bulgaria to find a technical solution, for which there is already a political decision.
The Foreign Minister said that Northern Macedonia has met the criteria for the start of negotiations, that it has even exceeded them, so now it is the turn of the European Union to fulfill what it promised.
Yesterday, the president of the opposition VMRO-DPMNE, Kristijan Mickoski, advocated for a date and negotiations immediately, without conditions and touching on the national identity. He asked the EU members to do that at the June European summit, and for the talks with the eastern neighbor to run in parallel.
According to the announcement from the government press service, Prime Minister Zaev during his visit to Brussels today will also meet with Augusto Santos Silva, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Portugal, a member state and current holder of the EU presidency.
The series of talks began last night with a meeting with Miroslav Lajcak, EU Special Representative for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. The two agreed that Northern Macedonia has done its part of the obligations and that it is time for the EU to deliver, without delay, as any other decision would undermine the Union's credibility in the entire Western Balkans.
Meetings are also planned with MEPs Dacian Colos, chair of the Europe Renew group, and with Ilhan Kucuk, EP rapporteur for Northern Macedonia.
From Brussels, Prime Minister Zaev, together with Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Nikola Dimitrov, will travel to Madrid and then to Athens.
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