On Wednesday, 15 January 2020, Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, visited North Macedonia as his first visit outside of the European Union, thus sending a strong signal that the European Union perspective of North Macedonia, and the region as a whole, remains a priority. During his visit, Commissioner Várhelyi met with President Pendarovski, Prime Minister Spasovski and Parliament Speaker Xhaferi. He also met with the leaders of the two main political parties – the leader of SDSM, Zaev and the leader of VMRO-DPMNE, Mickoski.
Commissioner Várhelyi pointed out also his personal commitment to the European integration of the Western Balkans, stating that "the geo-political Commission cannot work without bigger leverage, bigger influence in the region". Media widely reflected his optimism for soon opening of negotiations of North Macedonia with the European Union, which will be the main goal in the period ahead, when in parallel with the improvement of the negotiations methodology, the Commission will work on soon opening of negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. In addition to this, Commissioner Várhelyi also said that the European Commission will support the economic development of the Western Balkans, will work to intensify EU's presence in the region and help to close the gap in the economic development between EU and Western Balkans countries.
Commissioner praised the progress North Macedonia has done so far. "North Macedonia has been steady in the reforms thanks to a series of governments who have been devoting their efforts to this. Not only this government, but also the preceding government and the government before them. There is a national consensus and I hope that this national consensus will last long. This will help the ever-greater challenge once the accession negotiations are open", said Várhelyi.
Várhelyi acknowledged that impressive progress on difficult reforms was made by the country and highlighted the importance of keeping the momentum and continuation with the reforms. He especially emphasized the importance of adopting the Law on Public Prosecution before the elections scheduled in April. Further on, he also highlighted the importance of continuation of the implementation of the agreements with Greece and Bulgaria, regardless of who is in the government.