At the end of the EU-Western Balkans Summit the President of the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia has issued a statement for the media, which we convey to you in full:
Today, at the EU-Western Balkans Summit here, in Brdo, Slovenia, we had another strong reaffirmation that only one EU member-state opposes our integration and commencement of membership negotiations with the European Union.
Unfortunately, to my personal, and I believe, to all our citizens’ disappointment, the blockage comes from our neighbour, Bulgaria.
The messages from President Macron and the Chancellor Merkel are clear – the solutions ask for a look to the future, and not digging through the past.
Regrettably, I am not convinced that President Radev understood that message.
The steps and blockages undertaken by Radev, on behalf of Bulgaria, are an insult to the Macedonian citizens.
The Macedonian people, despite being amicable, cannot justify the blockages.
My people have given me a mandate to create solutions; they did not give me the mandate to rationalize last century’s policies.
So far, no EU member-state has had any objections to our reforms.
Our progress in EU integration should primarily depend on the domestic reforms related to the achievement of the European standards, not on bilateral issues. Therefore, we are committed to resolving the bilateral disputes that have been pulled from the past, as evidenced by the Prespa Agreement and the Agreement with Bulgaria from 2017.
It is no news that it is acceptable for us, in the spirit of the European good-neighbourly relations, to intensify the talks with our neighbour, Republic of Bulgaria.
We say yes, we can and we must, both sides, immediately upon the elections in both Bulgaria and North Macedonia, as befits us, with sincere political will, to take decisive steps to resolve the open issues.
However, it is also no news that our clear and loud standing on the identity issues is that the Macedonian identity cannot be subject to negotiations.
North Macedonia undertook all the necessary steps in our jurisdiction to unblock the process of EU enlargement, not only for us, but for the whole region.
Our success in the process of Europeanization of the country was recognized and confirmed with the decision adopted by the European Council in March, last year, for commencement of negotiations with our country.
We remain committed to our strategic objective – EU membership through comprehensive implementation of the European values and standards in North Macedonia.
This is what our citizens ask for – this is what we must do.
North Macedonia is Europe. Western Balkans is Europe!
I avail myself of this opportunity to express my appreciation to Slovenia and Prime Minister Jansha for their commitment and the quality time devoted to the well-being of the whole Western Balkans and to the enlargement process; I believe that they will remain committed to this issue till the end of their mandate.
Furthermore, I would like to offer my special gratitude to Chancellor Merkel and President Macron who also found time to discuss President Radev and me in order to find solutions.
Moreover, I would like to thank the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, to the Vice President of the European Commission Borrell and the Euro-Commissioner Varhelyi.
In the very end, I would like to express my recognition for the support that was presented at the meetings with the Prime Minister of Estonia, Kallas and the Prime Minister of Ireland, Martin. We had excellent meetings, we talked about bilateral cooperation and there is still a lot to be done in that line, but we are thankful for their direct support for the integration of North Macedonia into the EU.