Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met with the President of the Republic of Northern Macedonia, Stevo Pendarovski, who is on an official visit to Greece at the invitation of the President of the Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Stevo Pendarovski confirmed the significant momentum being built in bilateral relations in all areas of mutual interest. They agreed on the need to deepen and expand bilateral co-operation, with an emphasis on the economy, investment, energy and connectivity sectors.
The Prime Minister reaffirmed Greece’s support for the path of European accession of the Western Balkans and Northern Macedonia in particular, in accordance with the set criteria.
In this context, he underlined that the strengthening of relations between the two countries and Athens’ support for the European path of accession of the neighboring country are fully linked to the full, sustainable and trustworthy implementation of the Prespa Agreement, which is an integral part of the enlargement process.
From the Greek side, the meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Diplomacy and Foreign Relations Costas Fragogogiannis, Director of the Diplomatic Office of the Prime Minister, Ambassador Eleni Surani, Greek Ambassador to Northern Macedonia Roussos Kound. Government Spokeswoman Aristotle Peloni.
At the beginning of the meeting between the two men, Kyriakos Mitsotakis said: “it is a great pleasure to welcome you to Athens. I would also like to express my sincere condolences for the death of 14 people in the devastating fire on the day your country celebrated the 30th anniversary of independence.
We attach great importance, as you know, to strengthening and deepening our bilateral relations and advancing the accession process for Northern Macedonia. It is a topic that we will have the opportunity to discuss tomorrow in Slovenia, in the framework of the EU-Western Balkans Summit.
I am pleased that our bilateral cooperation is progressing steadily in the areas of energy, defense, interconnection and cross-border cooperation. I look forward to discussing all aspects of our bilateral cooperation. “Again, welcome to Athens, Mr. President,” Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.
In his speech, the President of Northern Macedonia noted: “Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister. This is a historic visit at the highest level, given the meeting of the two Presidents of the Republic and, of course, the meeting with you, the Prime Minister of Greece, in the framework of an official visit. Thank you for your time.
I know that today you will leave for the EU-Western Balkans Summit. Very soon I would like to start with this – given the presence of the media. Greece is among the most ardent supporters of Northern Macedonia’s EU membership.
We expect that tomorrow, in Slovenia, together with many other European friends, you will support the request of all the countries of the Western Balkans, but especially of the country from which I come and of which I am President, Northern Macedonia. We must finally start accession negotiations with the European Union, which we have been waiting for a long time, as we meet all the conditions.
We are currently in the midst of trying to find common ground with our friends in Bulgaria. We do not want to make a short cut on the road to the EU, but to meet all the conditions, all the procedures that have been set. And to be treated equally with everyone else.
However, we have been waiting for 16.5 years. We are a candidate country and the time has come to start negotiations, which will take years. Therefore, what we are looking for is not to become members overnight, but to be given the opportunity to start negotiations. And then for us and many of our European friends to complete all the admission modules, the previous chapters. So we are ready. We are probably the most prepared candidate country in the history of the European Union.
So we need, we deserve a real opportunity to start negotiations and we are counting on you, on your support, as always. And especially in the last 2.5 years, since the signing of the Prespa Agreement. So here’s an update. I always remind those who forget that the second part of the agreement is about establishing a strategic partnership, not just the name issue. You are well aware of this aspect of our bilateral relationship.
Thank you for all the efforts you have made so far and we can not wait for some more efforts tomorrow “, concluded Stevo Pendarovski.