European Western Balkans

Remarks by Commissioner Hahn following his meeting with political leaders in Skopje

SKOPJE – “First of all, thank you for all your patience from the media, to wait the whole day, but I think it was worth it. We had very intensive, constructive negotiations with the party leaders. As you can see, I am surrounded by Prime Minister, Mr Zaev, representatives of the Albanian parties, Mr Ahmeti, Mr Thaci.

We have once again committed to the Euro-Atlantic perspective of the country. It is important to overcome the current difficult situation, the current crisis, in order to keep the Euro-Atlantic perspective alive. That’s why we have a certain time pressure. You are fully aware, it is about a further recommendation in order to start negotiations with the European Union. But before that, it is important to overcome the internal difficult situation.

We have to work also in your country in the spirit of cooperation, of a necessary political compromise, in order to have a necessary balance between the different powers, between the different groups of society, and that’s why we have agreed to foresee a kind of transitional period.

It was agreed that by the end of April next year, there should be early elections, but it is important to prepare the country. It is about sound electoral codes, it is about a revised voting list, it is about respecting the rights of minorities. It will be furthermore important to accept all the recommendations being given by the European Commission when it comes to the independence of the judiciary. We have agreed to apply the methodology usually used when we negotiate the chapters 23 and 24. Also, we have yet no negotiations, but it is about rule of law, independence of justice, freedom of media etc.

All this will be applied and will help to further modernise the country and to give it a European perspective. There is an international responsibility and obligation. That’s why I am grateful that also the Ambassador of the United States, together with the Ambassador of the European Union, have supported efforts to get an agreement today.

Once again, I am grateful for the constructive climate of all involved partners and we will see each other next week again in Brussels to have a final deal, a final agreement, which allows the country to head on, and to use this current crisis as an opportunity to modernise the country, to lead it into the future. And it is up to the political parties to have a fair and serious competition about each other.

And be reassured that the European attention is there. The country is in the spotlight of the international community, will stay in the spotlight, but see it as a chance, as an opportunity for the country. If everything goes well, I am strongly convinced that afterwards, the country, the political culture will be strengthened and will follow European standards.

Thank you very much and thanks again for waiting.”

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