Statement of the President of the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, on joint press conference with Euro-Commissioner Hahn
Brussels, European Commission, October 16th 2019
Let me start by addressing the European leaders.
Dear European leaders do not put out the stars that we are reaching for, do not become our impediment, be our heroes. The European road is our only road.
Заедничка прес-конференција со еврокомесарот Јоханес Хан.
Posted by Zoran Zaev on Wednesday, October 16, 2019
For the second time this year, our country and our people face great expectations and anticipation. At the end of June and the beginning of July Brussels sent the message that North Macedonia fulfilled the expected results, but only due to calendar harmonization with the EU member-states, the good news for decision for the commencement of negotiations for EU membership, will arrive in October.
Here’s October. We came to Brussels and we expect the deserved news on the decision for start of negotiations for our strategic objective, North Macedonia’s membership within the European Union.
Our approach was sincere and honest, we understand that certain members of the European Union have the need to open and close the debate for new enlargement methodology. And we are in favour of this.
However, we are sure that these two processes can and should evolve in parallel. The Methodology can be developed and implemented and this should not prevent North Macedonia from getting positive decisions here and now so that we can start negotiations for EU accession. We need a positive decision now.
A decision for accession negotiations to us means a new process of tasks, deadlines and hard work of the citizens, institutions and the whole society – this is a process of opening chapters that will enable us to reach EU’s standards and to improve the life in North Macedonia in all areas.
After ten positive recommendations issued by the European Commission, the optimistic conclusions of the Council (in 2018 and 2019) and all our confirmed results and reform endeavours on our European path, after everything we did – the Government, the Parliament, all institutions, I, as Prime Minister, the opposition and especially my people – we are convinced that, as never before, we need to start negotiations. This is so, because we are ready, both politically and institutionally. And our citizens are more than ready.
We have done a lot and we are ready for more work and facing all the challenges brought by the process.
Any postponement will be read as a negative decision and will have numerous negative effects.
There will be a high level of disappointment among the citizens and among the members of the Parliament who supported the implementation of the Prespa Agreement.
Let us not forget that the implementation of the Prespa Agreement is closely related to the process of opening chapters for the European Union.
I would like to warn, in good faith, that if the expected and deserved positive decision is not delivered, then the credibility of the European Union and the trust that our citizens have in the Union, will be questioned.
This will surely motivate the regressive forces in the country and will reinforce the interest for the region among third parties. If EU shows lack of presence or weakness regarding the Western Balkan, then third parties will fill in the vacuum.
Therefore, distinguished leaders of the European Union do not put out the shining start that we are striving for. Do not be our impediment. Be our heroes.
The start of negotiations will help us stimulate even greater engagement of all groups and communities in our country, to create more jobs and to keep the youth at home, to keep them engaged and committed.
Distinguished, now I would like to send a message to my citizens, to my proud and devoted people:
Our road is one and is right – through unity, work and mutual respect, we will achieve results.
No one can take away the reforms and changes which we had achieved together. We will rise from this uncertainty stronger and more experienced. And no one can prevent us from continuing on the road on which we are surely progressing – the road to higher salaries, road to fight against corruption, poverty and pollution, the road to social protection for the vulnerable groups, the road to building institutions that will uphold each citizen.
This is the road taken by all members of NATO and EU. By internal reinforcement and regional cooperation with all our neighbours and with countries that our friends, we will continue to build North Macedonia even stronger – as a country of possibilities, as a mosaic of values and diversities.
Distinguished citizens, we are becoming a NATO member. This was our strategic objective, as of the independence until present times. This brings us forward, stable and secure, in alliance with the most powerful. At the same time, we will continue to be an example and a motivation for positive change in the region. It is clearly that the Balkan has changed and that it becomes a source of stability. EU knows this very well and it must accept the Balkan too, is European. We remain committed and through work, we will prove where we belong.
This is good for us, for the region and for the EU itself.
At the very end, I would like to extend my gratitude to Commissioner Hahn for his personal enormous efforts for reaching a negotiations decision and for his engagement in the recent years, months and days. Commissioner Hahn, Dear Johannes, I assure you that Republic of North Macedonia highly values this and will never forget it. You are a great friend to our country.