European Western Balkans

Zaev: We are not asking for immediate membership, just negotiations

Zoran Zaev; Photo: European Commission

In his interview for Euracitv, Prime Minister of Macedonia Zoran Zaev recognized the importance of internal reforms in the EU, but did not see how accession negotiations with Macedonia could hinder them.

In fact, he expressed an opposite view: “Let Europe reform in parallel and we can even help you, by giving the example of European ways to find solutions to problems.”

He said he had told the same thing to French President Macron during the Summit in Sofia in May. “We are not asking to immediately become EU members. We would like to be given the chance to conduct negotiations for full membership in the EU”, he emphasised, referring to the decision of the European Council to open accession talks with his country only in 2019.

However, Zaev does not regard the decision as a major disappointment. “Montenegro started accession talks seven and a half months after the decision of the European Council. Serbia started negotiations nine months and a half after the summit decision. In our case, it will be 12 months.”

He also showed understanding for Macron’s decision to postpone the process. “French President Macron, who is a great pro-European politician, has probably taken this stance because of the internal debates in France, and I know something about internal debates.”

With regards to internal disagreements, Zaev criticized the negative reaction of the opposition parties to the name deal with Greece. He said that if they are still in favour of Macedonia’s accession to EU and NATO, they should be ready to compromise.

There are no friendly relations without the agreement, concluded Zaev.

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