Kovacevski - Borrell: Negotiations with North Macedonia should start without further delay

The Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia Dimitar Kovacevski and the the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission Josep Borrell, who is on a working visit to our country, today held a joint press conference informing about the discussions they had.

In his address to the media, Prime Minister Kovacevski stressed that in a time of great instability, as a result of Russia's military aggression against Ukraine, the need occurs for Europe to be united, strong and fully prepared to defend the democratic values on the basis of which it is built.

"North Macedonia, as a NATO member and candidate country from the first days of the conflict, has set its position in line with its allies from the EU, US and NATO." We strongly condemned Russia's military aggression against Ukraine and in that direction, we imposed sanctions against the Russian Federation," said the Prime Minister of North Macedonia Kovacevski.

He added that today we are witnessing a military aggression in which too many innocent people, including children, have lost their lives and over 2.5 million Ukrainians have already became refugees by leaving their homes.

In this context, the European Union and all member states should act strategically and courageously and call for the integration of the Western Balkan countries into the European Union, Prime Minister Kovacevski said at the press conference, stressing that only a fully united Europe can be a strong Europe.

"It is of extreme importance for the European Union and the member states to get involved as much as possible, since EU enlargement to the Western Balkans countries is now both a strategic and a security issue. Integration means a common commitment to building a strong, stable and united Europe, as a home of democratic and civilization values and forces. Leaving a geostrategic gap in our part of Europe is not an option. The rapid integration of North Macedonia and the region will ensure stability, but also development of Europe. "We need predictable, credible, enhanced and accelerated EU integration processes." Prime Minister Kovacevski emphasized.

Kovacevski added that the Government remains committed to the reforms and reform processes, primarily related to the rule of law, the combat against corruption and democratic governance, along with the work for a speedy recovery from the economic crisis, which is expected to strengthen financial support from the European Union, thus additionally enabling accelerated energy and digital transformation.

EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission Josep Borrell said at the press conference that the Republic of North Macedonia has proved to be a responsible member of the international community in condemning the military aggression in Ukraine.

He added that North Macedonia and the Western Balkans remain at the top of the EU's strategic priorities and that he and the European Commission would do everything necessary to make the country's EU membership a reality as soon as possible.

Borrell informed that the European Commission is preparing measures from the European Investment Plan for the Western Balkans to support energy diversification and reducing dependence, particularly appropriate as we all face the economic consequences of the war.