Prime Minister Zoran Zaev hosted Prime Minister Mark Rutte on his first official visit to North Macedonia

At the meeting, Prime Minister Zaev expressed his and the Government's satisfaction with the intensified high-level political dialogue in the recent years.

The Netherlands is an important partner of North Macedonia in NATO. We have achieved strong bilateral ties and developed cooperation in the last 28 years. In addition, the Netherlands has become our most committed supporter of our EU integration efforts, as well.

Prime Minister Zaev stressed that the Government of North Macedonia strongly appreciates the encouraging messages of Dutch support for the EU integration process. Achievements in the field of strengthening democracy and the rule of law were also welcomed, with an emphasis on the need for continued and committed implementation of EU standards and reform goals.

At the meeting, Prime Minister Zaev expressed gratitude for the consistent Dutch support in building North Macedonia as a European democracy, free society and free market economy, emphasizing that the Netherlands is the largest bilateral donor, and North Macedonia is under the Dutch constituency in the World Bank.

Prime Minister Zaev also informed Prime Minister Rutte about the latest Open Balkans initiative between North Macedonia, Albania and Serbia, which aims to demonstrate the common capacity of the region and bring concrete benefits to our citizens and businesses, which is complementary to the accession process through which it will enable us to better prepare for full integration into EU policies.

For his part, Prime Minister Rutte voiced his support for the Open Balkans process, adding that the initiative should remain open to other countries in the region.

It was stated at the meeting that in December there is a key window in the EU integration policy towards the Western Balkans and it was stressed that the process will not be credible if the progress made in the file of North Macedonia and Albania is not accepted which was noted in the October report of the European Commission, together with the reiterated recommendation that the two countries meet the conditions to start negotiations with the EU.