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Zaev, EU has an obligation to show enlargement is alive

"Strategic failure" if negotiations are kept on hold, told Ansa

03 September, 16:24
(by Stefano Giantin) (ANSA) - BELGRADE, SEP 3 - The European Union "has an obligation to show in practice that the enlargement process in the Western Balkans is alive" and to confirm that "European values and principles are still a reality. It would be a strategic failure if the EU sacrifices enlargement due to internal political situation in one of its member-country," the North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev told ANSA in an interview.

"At the moment, negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania are at hold. The problem is no longer only political, the situation has become a moral concern for the European Union. For us, EU has no alternative, but with what everything is happening within EU, in this sense, the integrity of the EU is put in test," Zaev added. Two days ago, at the Bled Strategic Forum "where the future of Europe was discussed, one clear message came out from this forum - there is no future of Europe without enlargement," the North Macedonian leader said.

"Bulgaria is in a complicated internal political situation.

After two pairs of elections, in April and July, unfortunately, a government wasn't formed. They are heading now toward third in-a-row elections in November, and I hope that these elections will result with a new government there," Zaev said, answering a question about the possibility of overcoming the current Bulgarian veto against Skopje. "The sooner a political government in Sofia is establish the better. That will create opportunities for talks so we can overcome this situation. We hope that the EU as soon as possible will approve the Negotiation Framework for North Macedonia and Albania. This is just the first step. Not the end. We have a long way to go to become full-member." the PM added.

In the meantime, North Macedonia is still kept in the corner by Europe, despite the reforms and the fact that Skopje even changed the name of the country to progress towards EU accession. "What has North Macedonia done for its European perspective - everything and more, and what has it received in return - nothing and less - these were the words of the Slovenian President Pahor at the Bled Forum, and there are no better words to explain where we stand now, unfortunately. It's a bitter feeling, yes. These are challenging moments, where we all need to look into European values. The values of the founding fathers of the EU, who were talking about European nations, and with no doubt both Macedonians, and Albanians are European nations, living in the heart of Europe. The EU should return to the values of the founding fathers. The EU today needs Schuman and Adenauer more than ever. Europe should not be afraid to be a mother for all," Zaev commented. But nonetheless the government in Skopje remains "on the same strategic track", there is "no giving up," Zaev stressed.

But without a strong EU in the Balkans, there are concerns about the potential destabilizing role of external powers such as China or Russia. "If the EU doesn't enlarge, someone else will try," Zaev remarked. "The EU should understand that enlargement with the countries of the Western Balkans is not a matter of enlargement only, but a matter of foreign policy and strategic positioning of the EU toward Western Balkans countries. Moving forward the enlargement is fundamental for the credibility of the EU, and for the future of Europe." (ANSA).

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