Hahn: North Macedonia is the only country in the region without bilateral disputes

Johannes Hahn at the presentation of 2019 Enlargement Package; Photo: European Union

BRUSSELS – North Macedonia serves as an example, it is now the only country in the Western Balkans that does not have bilateral disputes, it is stated today, after publishing the European Commission’s 2019 Enlargement Package.

The European Commission asked the European Council to immediately start negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. Nonetheless, as Hahn said, even if negotiations were to start immediately, years will pass until the next enlargement.

Mogherini said that the country has made great changes, thanks to the political leaders and the citizens.

“North Macedonia has made profound, previously unseen, changes in the judiciary, the fight against corruption and organized crime. This reflects the will of the people, and by adopting this decision, the political leaders and citizens have decided to engage themselves,” said Mogherini, pointing out that the assessments in the report are strict and precise.

She also pointed out that the Prespa Agreement and the Agreement with Bulgaria, represent a tremendous change made by the country.

“Based on the strict assessment, this year, the Commission is recommending the start of negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. The two countries did their part and now it is time for the EU to fulfil its part, with a recommendation from the Council to start negotiations,” Mogherini said.

The European Commissioner Hahn, repeated at the press conference, what he said previously at the session of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET), that the Prespa Agreement solved a conflict that lasted more than 30 years.

“It seemed impossible to solve, but North Macedonia and Greece solved this challenge. North Macedonia became an example of reconciliation and good-neighbourly relations, and is now the only country in the Western Balkans that has no bilateral problems,” said the Commissioner.

He appealed to the Member States to have confidence in the reports because they are based on solid facts. However, even if negotiations were to begin right away, years will pass to until both countries become full fledge members, Han said, referring to the latest EU member, Croatia, which negotiated for eight years.