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“Opening accession negotiations this year is and remains the strategic objective not only of the government but of the entire country”, the High Representative Federica Mogherini said following the meeting of the Stabilisation and Association Council with North Macedonia. On the EU side, she confirmed the determination to support all political forces of North Macedonia in reaching this goal, which is a shared one - shared in national and European terms.
Numerous points, from political criteria and rule of law to regional cooperation, were discussed during the meeting. The Stabilisation and Association Council welcomed the significant steps taken by the government to advance EU-related reforms, in a transparent and inclusive manner. Acknowledging the achievements so far, the Council encouraged North Macedonia to continue its efforts over the coming months to strengthen the implementation of reforms. This is particularly important in areas such as the judiciary, the fight against corruption and organised crime and reform of the intelligence services and public administration.
Commenting on good neighbourly relations, the High Representative said the Prespa Agreement and the agreement with Bulgaria opened new perspectives for North Macedonia and sent a very powerful message in the region and beyond. “You have reminded us it is possible to achieve historic results in terms of relations with your neighbours and remain focused on the EU integration agenda and the reform agenda”, she stressed.
In the press conference with Prime Minister of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev and Commissioner Johannes Hahn, the High Representative commended the reform dynamic in the country while pointing out that the change was not just about adopting laws. “It is first and foremost about an institutional approach that the government takes”, she said.
“We will accompany you in keeping up a strong pace so that all this work can bring further results in the coming months. With continued reform progress North Macedonia and its citizens will move forward on the EU accession path,” she concluded.