Check against delivery!
Check against delivery!
We had today the 13th Stabilisation and Association Council between the European Union and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. It was my pleasure, our pleasure to welcome here in Brussels both Nikola [Dimitrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia] and Bujar [Osmani, Deputy Prime Minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia].
We had an excellent meeting covering all different issues in a very constructive and positive manner which reflects - I believe - the new sense of optimism and a sort of new start for the country and this allows us to somehow refocus on our common agenda.
Skopje faced a deep and a serious, prolonged political crisis in the past year or so. The European Union stood firmly at your side in that difficult period for the country, trying to facilitate political dialogue leading to a solution in line with the Constitution's provisions.
We are glad to see today a new start for the country, as I said, a new optimism, a strong commitment that allows us to refocus all our energies on the reforms the citizens need and want and on the European Union integration perspective of the country and also of the entire region.
Today we discussed the state of play and the way forward both of reforms and also of good neighbourly relations, with a particular emphasis on the need to ensure good inter-ethnic relations inside the country, full involvement of a constructive parliamentary opposition and consultation with civil society.
We are glad to see that good steps have been made especially on relations with neighbours. I know that in this very same hour in Skopje, in the Parliament, the Treaty with Bulgaria is presented today – a step that we welcome.
I would like also to welcome this spirit of concrete engagement and commitment that the new government is putting in place with the plan – I am sure that the other colleagues and friends will say more about that – but it is clear that with the new government in place ready to actively engage in the implementation of overdue reforms, there is a real opportunity to move the country forward on its European Union integration path.
The perspective of EU integration for the country and the whole Western Balkan region is very clear for us. It was confirmed recently by the European Council, just in March and reaffirmed in a very concrete manner just last week, at the Western Balkans Summit in Trieste.
So, I am sure that we will finally be in a position to move the country's accession process significantly forward if we continue to be focused on concrete deliverables.
This perspective – the perspective of the European integration of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in the European Union is for us an integral and an essential part of our engagement for the Western Balkans and we re-stressed and confirmed our full commitment to that. I am sure that our common work can make real – finally – progress on this path.
Q. On the name issue?
We are already active and we hope to see a solution to the name issue as soon as possible and we welcome any positive step that can be taken, also directly.
On a different issue that is not the name issue, but I would like to underline how positively we assess the fact that the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria manage bilaterally without any mediation or facilitation to find an important agreement that we welcome. So, the optimism is in the air I think also for things that have been difficult in the past and that could become less difficult in the future – hopefully.