European Western Balkans

Reactions from North Macedonia, Serbia to the EU common gas purchase platform

European Council meeting, 25 March 2022; Photo: European Union

SKOPJE / BELGRADE – The government of North Macedonia released a statement on the conclusion of the European Council supporting the inclusion of the Western Balkans in the platform for the common purchase of gas. President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić also reacted to the proposal on Friday.

European Council conclusions, adopted on 25 March, state that, with the view of the war in Ukraine, refilling of gas storage across the Union should start as soon as possible, taking fully into account national preparedness measures.

“The Member States will work together on the voluntary common purchase of gas, LNG (liquified natural gas), and hydrogen, making optimal use of the collective political and market weight of the European Union and its Member States to dampen prices in negotiations. The common purchases platform will also be open for Western Balkan countries and the three associated Eastern Partners”, the Conclusions read.

On 26 March, the Government of North Macedonia released a statement on the conclusion.

“Thanks to this strategy for dealing with the consequences of the war and the energy crisis, North Macedonia becomes part of this EU platform for joint purchase of liquefied natural gas from the United States to partially decrease its dependence on Russian gas”, the statement reads.

There were also reactions in Serbia. President Aleksandar Vučić, in his interview for the Serbian Euronews on Friday evening, thanked the President of the European Council Charles Michel for including the Western Balkans in the platform.

Vučić said this while answering the question on Serbia’s lack of alignment with the EU sanctions on Russia. He answered that Serbia respected the international law when it comes to Ukraine and reminded of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, which, he said, was a violation of the international law.

“Despite (the bombing), we don’t have a problem with saying that we are on the European path, because we regard it as a system of well-organised countries. And I am grateful tonight to Charles Michel who did not forget the Western Balkans when it comes to the supply of natural gas, hydrogen etc… But, at the same time, let us have our country, let us be proud of our country and our origin, and that we want to keep our country and keep our right to make key political decisions based on our interests”, Vučić said.

On 24-25 March 2022, the European Council adopted conclusions on the Russian military aggression against Ukraine, security and defence, energy, economic issues, COVID-19, external relations and the election of the President of the European Council.

It also adopted a point on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“The European Council discussed the prolonged political crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The European Union reiterates its commitment to the European perspective of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Western Balkans. Leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina need to demonstrate a strong commitment to finalise swiftly the constitutional and electoral reform, vital for stability and full functionality of the country, as well as to support all other priority reforms set out in the Commission’s Opinion to obtain a candidate status. The European Union stands ready to continue its high-level engagement in this regard”, the point reads.

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