Prime Minister Zoran Zaev once again called on the European Union to keep its word and deliver what it promised to North Macedonia. “We will not become an EU member state tomorrow,” Zaev said, noting that the first intergovernmental conference is merely the first step to the country’s EU membership.
Speaking to reporters at a street construction work site in Skopje, Zaev said he hoped the new Bulgarian government would show leadership, responsibility and care for the Western Balkans, and especially care for its closest western neighbor, North Macedonia.
According to him, the decisions of the new Bulgarian government can “move the country toward Europeanization, and with it Albania, by opening the first intergovernmental conferences for us, Albania, Montenegro and Serbia.”
Europe must finally show whether it will continue toward the integration of the Western Balkans into the EU, the prime minister said.
“We did it all. We implemented 100 percent of the reforms. On March 20, 2020, all 27 member states decided to start the negotiations. Now we are just waiting for the next step, the first intergovernmental conference,” he added, pointing out that “the new Bulgarian government should also take a step forward, showing European manners.”
Once negotiations start, the prime minister noted, the talks can stop if the country was not making the necessary progress. “But I definitely expect European leadership, responsibility and care for the Western Balkans.”
“It is up to the EU to make the decision just as we needed to make some decisions in order to move toward the EU, primarily regarding reforms,” Zaev said.
“We showed European manners and responsibility, we took serious risks, and we expect an appropriate response from the EU. This time it is the Union we are talking to, because we already have a bilateral agreement with Bulgaria, which has been significantly implemented.
“It is our duty to be realistic, to talk about the problem objectively,” Zaev added. “I expect them to move forward and Europe to finally keep its word because this is a matter of dignity.”