site.btaUPDATED Borrell: EC Will Continue Talks with Bulgaria until a Solution Is Found to Move Forward North Macedonia’s EU Accession Process
The European Commission will continue talks with Bulgaria until a resolution is found to the bilateral issue which hinders the start of accession talks between the Republic of North Macedonia and the European Union, said EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and European Commission Vice-President Josep Borrell at a news conference in Skopje, after a meeting with North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski on Monday.
According to Borrell, the Republic of North Macedonia belongs to the European family, and everything possible is being done to start accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia at the next intergovernmental conference, as this is a priority for the EC. He expressed hope that the intensive work of the two governments -- Bulgaria’s and North Macedonia’s -- will solve the bilateral problems, which will make the process possible, because enlargement cannot continue if it is hampered by outstanding issues. The EC will continue talks with Bulgaria until the question is settled. The positive thing is that there is will in both governments to reach a solution, Borrell said.
For his part, Kovachevski thanked Borrell for his strong support for the Republic of North Macedonia to receive an immediate start date for talks, and reiterated that a new principle of co-operation has been established with Bulgaria, which he said is the right way to resolve the dispute.
"Only a fully united Europe can be strong. The current status quo is not in anyone's favour. The blockade of the country's accession talks is being felt throughout the region. The Republic of North Macedonia needs a strong and clear European perspective. The war in Ukraine poses the risk of third countries increasing their influence in the region, and we must all be extremely careful and prepared for that. Leaving a geostrategic gap in our part of Europe is not an option, and the rapid integration of North Macedonia and the region into the EU will ensure stability in Europe. We need predictable, accelerated and intensified EU integration processes. EU’s enlargement in the Western Balkans is no longer just a strategic issue, but also a matter of security. The countries of the Western Balkans are closely linked: when there is progress in one country, it incentivizes progress in its neighbours. The government of the Republic of North Macedonia remains committed to making reforms with regard to the rule of law, the fight against corruption, and economic matters, and EU financial support will make a major contribution to this end," Dimitar Kovachevski said.
The Republic of North Macedonia is the first country Josep Borrell is visiting during his tour in the region. Earlier today in Skopje, he met with President Stevo Pendarovski. Borrell is also to meet with Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani, Parliament chair Talat Xhaferi and leaders of the main political parties in North Macedonia’s assembly.