North Macedonia has done its homework so we also need to deliver. We want to start negotiations, which are the starting line. But, the pass to the European Union is one of reform. Every step on reform that is done by North Macedonia is a step closer to the European Union, EU Ambassador to North Macedonia David Geer said Friday.
He added that we have to push the process forward and reach the goal, which is starting talks.
“Is October realistic? Yes, it is! As I’ve been saying, the Portuguese presidency has worked hard, Slovenia has indicated that this is a priority and that it will continue that work and I think that we all understand that we need to keep pushing this along to get it across the line and then we can start the business of the accession negotiations themselves,” Geer said.
The EU Ambassador noted that North Macedonia’s European perspective is not being challenged and expressed disappointment that the country yet again failed to get a green light over the negotiating framework.
“Of course I’m disappointed. We want to see the opening of negotiations as soon as possible. The last 15 months have been difficult for everyone, we’ve had the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s normal that people want to hear some good news. People understand that the European Union represents the best prospect for prosperity, stability, underpinned by democratic principles and the rule of law. So, they want to move forward, they want to see the way ahead. But, I think it’s important that we step back a moment and keep a very clear head. What is not being contested is the European perspective of North Macedonia,” Geer stressed.
It’s clear, he added, that it remains a strategic goal of the European Union to see North Macedonia as part of the EU.
“That’s not being challenged, in fact, on the contrary, in the Council and across the member states we’ve heard repeatedly a confirmation that this is our strategic goal so we need to keep a focus on that. What that means in practice is now we need to continue to engage, we’ve seen the Portuguese proposal to move forward and some progress has been made so we need to work with them and work to achieve this goal,” the Ambassador said.
In regard to Prime Minister Zoran Zaev’s criticism that “Europe has a problem that’s within the European Union,” Geer noted that decisions regarding the enlargement policy are made by unanimity.
“Those are the rules of the game and you can understand it because we’re talking about here inviting a third country to come into the club, sit at the table and make decisions. So, it’s an important issue. But, where are we? Well, as I’ve said we’ve had a constructive proposal from the Portuguese presidency aiming at taking this forward. Some progress has been made so we need to continue to engage with them, try to push this across the line. At the same time there have been constructive discussions between Sofia and Skopje,” he underlined, adding that we need to focus on the real issues are, which is the Portuguese presidency’s proposal, efforts that will be taken on by Slovenian and the new presidency very shortly, and at the same time, the bilateral relationship between North Macedonia and Bulgaria in order to make progress there.
According to the Ambassador, North Macedonia and Bulgaria should resume dialogue. It’s important, he added, that that engagement continues on both sides so that in parallel we can see a resolution to this issue.