BRUSSELS – Today, on 10 October, the European Parliament hosted an exchange of views with Nikola Dimitrov, Foreign Minister of Macedonia. David McAllister, Chair of the AFET Committee, led the discussion.
Dimitrov delivered a speech on the implementation of key reforms in Macedonia. He started saying that the elections held in December gave a new face to the country.
“We are now more mature and we will build a genuine European democracy,” stated Dimitrov.
He expresses the will of the new government “to have media that are free because we need informed citizens, to have courts and judges that are independent and free of political interferes. We want a Parliament that it is functional.”
He also underlined the importance of reforms that secure the rule of law.
In terms of foreign policy, he showed the will to join NATO and to have good relationships with the neighbours.
Dimitrov said that “the primary tasks of foreign policy are to solve problems, to open doors, to build bridges and to invest in friendship”.
A primary goal is to join the EU but as Dimitrov stated “not for the sake of joining but for the sake of making of Macedonia a European democracy.”
He added that the region of the Balkans is such an integral part of European security.
“I am here to try to convince you that it is worth investing in our region, it is good for us but it is good also for Europe,” stated Dimitrov.
He talked about regional issues, stating that “we believe that the primary tasks of foreign policy are to solve problems, to open doors, and to build bridges and to invest in friendship.” In the Western Balkans “we need a realistic and tangible European perspective and we need tangible and serious reforms.”
He referred to the Thessaloniki meeting held on 5 October 2017, saying that this meeting was very important in “building trust, confidence-building measures, establishing good relations with Minister Kotzias.” (Nikos Kotzias, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece)
“We are fully aware that we cannot fight away in by making Greece an adversary, we have to talk our way in, and start a process to get even closer, and be a close friend and a future allay with Greece. […] I really think that it will be to the benefits of our citizens to work on understanding and friendships. We have to try to change the perspective on how we see this issue, and try to find a way where both countries feel comfortable.”
The Thessaloniki meeting that included also Albania and Bulgaria was for Dimitrov a way “to try to invest in a positive vision for the region, to find issues that connect us, and to become future European allies.”
“Hopefully, there is a lesson here for Europe and for the broader international community, because my country was locked in a waiting room for several years, and this is not a sustainable positive strategy to make it”, said Dimitrov.
Now “the country is more optimistic about its future, the support of European integration has increased up to 77%. About 60% of the citizens support the policies of the new government. We now have to deliver the hope, this is our goal.”
He concluded addressing to the European Institutions.
“Please, think about my country as a country of opportunity now and not as a country of crisis. It is probably a chance for Europe to show that not only it can help out a negative dynamic, but it can also help to create a positive result. If there is a region where Europe can make a real difference is definitely the region of the Western Balkans. Our future is with you and it is time for us to step it up and it is time for you to be more engaged with us,” stated Dimitrov.