Prime Minister Zaev holds press conference with EP President Sassoli: We strongly believe that our EU membership is irreplaceable and should not be disputed should we want stable and prosperous Western Balkan

Today the President of the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, welcome the President of the European Parliament, David Maria Sassoli. President Sassoli was invited by the President of the Assembly, Talat Xhaferi. 

The President of the European Parliament Sassoli and the members of his office had bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Zaev and with members of the delegation of the Government of North Macedonia consisted of the Deputy President of the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia in charge of European Affairs, Bujar Osmani and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikola Dimitrov.

Afterwards, the President of the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia and the President of the European Parliament David Maria Sassoli had joint press conference. Below you will find the integral address of Prime Minister Zaev. 

Today, in our country, at invitation issued by the President of our Assembly, Mr. Talat Xhaferi, we welcome our dear friend and strong supporter of the Republic of North Macedonia, the President of the European Parliament, David Maria Sassoli.

The fact that North Macedonia is the first country to be visited by the newly-elected President of the European house of democracy only proves his and the support of the European Parliament for our country.

This visit is an excellent occasion for us to express our gratitude to the European Parliament, to all MEPs who voted in favour of the resolution appealing to the EU member-states to start negotiations with Macedonia and Albania, after the October session of the European Council and the Summit of Leaders of EU member states had not adopt such decision.

Almost all European leaders agreed that on 18th October North Macedonia faced serious injustice and they agree that the lack of negotiations with EU is a historic mistake. This had sent a wrong signal to all of us in the country and the region.

North Macedonia has invested enormous political energy to return the country on the road to the EU. We have resolved insurmountable challenges that were seen by many as mission impossible. We succeeded because we had a strong motivation – the European perspective for our country and for our citizens.

We all had justified expectations that the moment has come to turn a new page. We all believed that we will start negotiations with strong transformative power and which will help us in the process to achieve the European standards and to become a full-fledged EU member-state.

Instead, the lack of consent for negotiations and opening chapters motivates the Euro-sceptics and restores the dilemma whether the EU remains true to its enlargement policy and whether there is an alternative.

It is not easy to continue without structured and systematic pressure which would have been brought by the accession negotiations; HOWEVER, WE SAY, THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE.

We must continue, even stronger with the reforms, with proofs that the country has rule of law, that we have strong arguments for progress in economy. We need these reforms mostly for us, at home.

We are facing new challenges: 

-    To prove that all achieved results so far are sustainable and irreversible; 
-    To prove that we are not deviating from our strategic ways to EU and NATO; 
-    We will face expected criticism and pressure by anti-EU and retrograde forces – and we will overcome them; 
-    We have sufficient internal force for further reforms, for fight against corruption and for rule of law.

These will be our results and our arguments that our place is in the EU. We believe in the values of the EU and we are convinced that the new chance for our country will open soon.

The European Parliament and the Resolution on North Macedonia and Albania are in fact motivation to continue the pressure for adoption of the decision which has not been adopted and that the forthcoming discussions in the EU will be completed with renewed consensus for enlargement.

We have arguments to accept the fact that the “Enlargement Methodology” can be transformed into “Enlargement together with change of the Methodology”. We are ready, together with the EU member-states, especially with France, but also with the European institutions, to work on developing the concept which will meet everyone’s interests and will bring new quality in the relations between EU and the Western Balkan.

It is clear that the enlargement process will undergo changes and that North Macedonia must prepare for a stricter monitoring.

However, we are looking at it as advantage for our transformation. The sooner we understand this, the better it will be for us and our society.

We are ready for this and we want to be part of it. However, we strongly believe that the perspective for EU membership has no alternative and should not be questioned, if we really want stable, secure and prosperous Western Balkan.

We believe. We are optimists. I am convinced that soon new possibilities will open with the help of our friends from EU.

Such friend is our today’s guest, President Sassoli to whom I reiterate my gratitude and support.