Prime Minister Zaev at Thessaloniki Summit: We made agreements for strategic partnership; now we continue opening space for business initiatives

North Macedonia and the WB countries have only one way ahead – the road to the EU. The integration of the country and the region started in Thessaloniki with the Resolution adopted at the EU Summit in this city in 2003. Bulgaria and Romania were the first countries from the Balkan that achieved the determinations of this Summit. Now, it is time to take a step ahead for North Macedonia and the other countries to join the European family, said the President of the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev at the Thessaloniki Summit on the panel discussion: “SEE: Improvement of regional cooperation and reforms”.

At the panel attended by all participants at this year’s Thessaloniki Summit, Prime Ministers of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Boyko Borisov, also addressed the panel.

Prime Minister Zaev in his address underlined that North Macedonia in the past three years has done a lot on both domestic and international levels. He emphasized the resolution of the bilateral disputes with Bulgaria in 2017 and with Greece in 2018 as one of the main priorities of the Government of North Macedonia. Furthermore, he said that the country has no longer open issues with the neighbours and this makes the country a unique example in the Western Balkan region.

The Prespa Agreement is the best example for success of diplomacy and dialogue. It has put an end on a long and difficult dispute. The name dispute was open for three decades. These were three decades of uncertainty regarding our future. Three decades of blocked perspectives for our key strategic interest.

“The Prespa Agreement is a dignifying and acceptable solution for both parties. It is based on compromise that builds friendship. Compromise that is good for both sides. Our achievement encourages other leaders in the region to be committed to maintaining peace and stability, to increase the regional cooperation, to reinforce the economic development and to be strongly devoted to EU integration. The whole world recognized the fact that we resolved the problems and now it is time to show, with an example, that we are taking another step forward and we are fulfilling the hope initiated in Thessaloniki in 2003”, said Prime Minister Zaev.

Furthermore, he underscored that North Macedonia has fulfilled its tasks to meet the terms for start of EU negotiations and assessed that the decision of EU not to give consent on this issue was a historic mistake and has negative effects; this has sent a negative message to the others in the region who see the EU integration as a motivation for democratic reforms.

“However, we shall not sit and wait. We continue the Europeanization of our society and we will reinforce and conduct our reforms. We are resolute in the fight against organized crime and corruption, we will not give up; we have already achieved significant results. Therefore, we are committed to move towards EU and NATO. It is good for us, it is good for the region, and it is good for EU and NATO. This is a good strategy for all”, underlined Prime Minister Zaev.

The President of the Government of North Macedonia said that the Euro-Atlantic future of the country is stimulating its economic development with regards to investments, greater trade, access to EU’s single market, increased mobility of labour, goods and capital, lower interest rates and it helps creating more and better paid jobs.

“Come to North Macedonia. The stability and reforms bring economic progress. In 2018 we had the highest level of foreign direct investments amounting to 624 million EUR. The growth was enhanced in 2019 and it is estimated to reach 3.8% towards the end of the year, motivated by the increase of the investments and consumption. We have developed policies for support of the business initiatives. This year the country has provided assistance in 50 million EUR. For the following year the Budget has secured more for support in that direction. The regional cooperation, the removal of barriers for free movement of labour, goods, services and capital is opening good opportunities to make profit in our country and to bring us higher GDP, development, new jobs. This is a win-win situation”, said Prime Minister Zaev to the representatives of the biggest countries from Greece and the region, while adding that all countries from Western Balkans share the European values and continue to implement the European standards in their societies.

“From a limbo situation in our inter-national relations, we have reached the moment when all three countries, Greece, Bulgaria and North Macedonia see each other as partners for transformation of the region. We have made agreements for strategic partnership; now it is time to support and open the space for business initiatives”, said Prime Minister Zaev on the Thessaloniki Summit on the panel discussion “SEE: Improvement of the regional cooperation and reforms”.