European Western Balkans

Várhelyi in Skopje: North Macedonia is ready for the start of negotiations

Oliver Varhelyi and Oliver Spasovski; Photo: Government of North Macedonia

SKOPJE – European Commission maintains that North Macedonia and Albania are ready for the start of accession negotiations, and the decision of the member states should be made before the EU Summit in Zagreb in May.

This was emphasised by Neighborhood and Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Várhelyi in a joint press conference with the caretaker Prime Minister of North Macedonia Oliver Spasovski, PlusInfo reports.

Várhelyi, who is visiting the Western Balkans for the first time since becoming the Enlargement Commissioner, said that the country’s priority is implementation of reforms. He said that after the elections, the European Commission would cooperate with whoever wins.

He also added that the implementation of the Prespa Agreement as well as the Good Neighborhood Agreement will be crucial for the new government.

“I’m happy to be in Skopje today. North Macedonia is a reliable partner for the EU and its reforms are working. We must speed up the processes and make them more credible for the region and for the member states. The Commission cannot operate without greater influence in the region”, said Várhelyi, PlusInfo reports.

He also said that the Commission must work under the assessment that North Macedonia and Albania are ready for the start of negotiations.

“We should have a positive decision by the Council before the May Summit. That is why we will have a lot of work with the Prime Minister in the coming months as we have to come up with new proposals to further the enlargement process. We want to propose the opening of accession negotiations as early as this spring, but that should be in line with economic criteria”, said the Commissioner.

Earlier on Wednesday, Várhelyi also met with the President of North Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski, and he is expected to meet with the leaders of the main political parties, former Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Hristijan Mickoski. He will also travel to Albania on Thursday.

Oliver Varhelyi and Stevo Pendarovski; Photo: Presidency of North Macedonia

During their meeting, President Pendarovski said that the country remains committed to the European agenda, given the fact that EU membership has a national consensus among the political stakeholders and enjoys a high support from the citizens. The President expressed hope that, by March this year, a new methodology for accession negotiation process would be defined.

In the context of the early parliamentary elections, President Pendarovski called for the responsibility of all political actors and stressed that they should be fair, free and in a democratic atmosphere, given the country’s aspirations for a future EU member state.

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