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Northern Macedonia: Portuguese Presidency pushes towards start of accession negotiations

The Portuguese Presidency of the European Union considers the enlargement process an important issue and will make every effort to intensify the dialogue to harmonize the negotiating framework and to formally start accession negotiations between Northern Macedonia and the EU. Northern Macedonia’s membership in the European Union will help maintain the EU’s credibility throughout the region.

These were the messages that Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Nikola Dimitrov and Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani received in Brussels from Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva and European Commission Vice President and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell.

In their meetings with Silva, Dimitrov and Osmani unanimously said that the European integration process should receive increased attention, especially in the case of Northern Macedonia, which since March last year has had a consensus decision from all countries. member to start negotiations. They reiterated the country’s commitment to the reform process, stressing that the country ‘s clear prospect of full EU membership in the future is the strongest impetus for continuing the reform process and integrating European values ​​within northern Macedonia.

Silva gave an overview of the Portuguese Presidency priorities for a social, digital and green Europe, strengthening its citizens’ confidence in the European social model, promoting a Union based on common values, solidarity, transformation and cohesion; an EU capable of coordinated action to recover from the COVID-19 crisis.

During the meeting between Osmani and Dimitrov and Josep Borrell, it was assessed that the start of negotiations for the accession of Northern Macedonia to the EU will help maintain the credibility of the EU throughout the region.

“The focus of the conversation was the future of EU enlargement policy, especially in the context of developments after the adoption of the new methodology and the opportunities it offers for intensifying the process, harmonizing the negotiating framework for Northern Macedonia, the importance and benefits of regional cooperation. and the promotion of good neighborly relations as key elements for the European perspective, both for the country and for the whole region “, as announced by the Press Office of the Government of Northern Macedonia.

“The meeting underlined the fact that Northern Macedonia has a large number of friends among the EU Member States, whose interests for the future of Europe coincide with ours for a full integration of the Western Balkans into the European bloc and for” final integration. ” of the Union ”.

Dimitrov and Osmani stressed at the meeting that the government is continuing reforms in order to maintain the focus of the reform process and maintain a “positive record for Northern Macedonia”.

Borrell, for his part, hailed the high level of alignment of Northern Macedonia with the EU’s common foreign and security policy during the talks.

“Dimitrov and Osman’s meeting with Borrell comes at an extremely important time for the EU enlargement process, and in this regard the interlocutors agreed that the start of negotiations with Northern Macedonia will help maintain the EU’s credibility in it. the whole area, “the press office said.

Osmani and Dimitrov also met with EU Special Representative for the Western Balkans and Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak to discuss Northern Macedonia’s European perspective, good neighborly relations, regional initiatives and expectations for the coming period. The meeting concluded that Northern Macedonia is ready to start negotiations with the European Union, emphasizing that the country is a successful European history in the region and, therefore, an example for other countries in the Western Balkans – which clearly shows the transformative power of European Ideas.

“Therefore, the European perspective of Northern Macedonia must continue regardless of the challenges along this path. “It will be a reaffirmation of keeping enlargement policy on the EU agenda, but also that a real investment in reforms and good neighborly relations means a safe investment for a better future for the people.” he after the meeting.

Meanwhile, Portuguese Foreign Minister Silva told the European Parliament that his country’s inspiration for the EU presidency in the field of enlargement was “quite ambitious”.

“We want to contribute to the adoption of the negotiating framework with Northern Macedonia and Albania and to continue the ongoing negotiations with Serbia and Montenegro,” Santos Silva told the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

Some MEPs have stressed that the EU should not forget Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, as well as the obstacles and problems that Bulgaria presents to Northern Macedonia on its path to the EU, said Commission member Isabel Santos from Portugal.

Hungarian MP Andor Deli noted the differences in approach to the enlargement process between the Council and the European Parliament and asked the Portuguese Minister what he would do to speed up the implementation of the new negotiation methodology.

“No changes have been made to this methodology,” Deli said, adding that “positive messages are needed to speed up the enlargement process.”

Austrian MEP Andreas Schieder asked how negotiations with Northern Macedonia and Albania would begin. Schieder also said he was interested in what would happen in the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. “I think it is important for Europe to lead this dialogue,” he said.

Answering questions from MEPs, Santos Silva said the issues between Northern Macedonia and Bulgaria should be resolved, as it “reflects the EU as a whole”, that they hope to make progress in the process and that last year’s decisions on the start of negotiations with northern Macedonia and Albania must be implemented.

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