Press Releases North Macedonia/OSCE: Press remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell after meeting with Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski

North Macedonia/OSCE: Press remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell after meeting with Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski

Thank you. Thank you, Prime Minister [of North Macedonia, Dimitar] Kovachevski.

I am happy to be in North Macedonia again.

I am becoming a frequent traveller, because I was here in Spring, when we held the European Union-North Macedonia Stabilisation and Association Council and for the EU-Facilitated between Serbia and Kosovo, that you kindly allowed us to hold in Ohrid. It was for me a fantastic experience to discover this beautiful place. I hope I will be able to attend next summer the Ohrid meeting.

But today, I am here – back – to the Ministerial meeting of the Organisation for Security Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that you are hosting here in North Macedonia.

The OSCE remains – in spite of all the troubled times we are living – an important partner. Or maybe because we are living troubled times, it is more important – an important partner organisation and a forum for exchange for the European Union. We value a lot the role of the OSCE, especially in these times.

The OSCE is the only platform where our common European security architecture is and should be discussed – despite the attempts by Russia to undermine the OSCE, to undermine its fundamental principles and the existing security arrangements.

I understand the unease of some participating states about your decision to allow Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov to participate.

I understand because with its illegal war against Ukraine, Russia is violating the United Nations Charter, is violating the same principles of the OSCE and violating international law at large. And for that, it is facing international sanctions and international isolation.

Yet, your decision to allow Lavrov to participate is in line with our common objective to keep multilateralism alive. And Lavrov needs to hear again from everyone why Russia is being condemned and isolated.  It will be a good occasion for him to listen directly from the participants of this meeting why Russia is being condemned and isolated.

Then, he will be able to come back to [the] Kremlin and report to the Kremlin master that the European Union and the OSCE remain united in deploring Russia’s aggressive unlawful behaviour. It is going to be at least useful from this point of view.

On the other hand, it is essential for the [OSCE] Ministerial Council to ensure that the OSCE has all the necessary means at its disposal to function effectively. We do not want to lose the OSCE’s working capacity.

We commend the work that you – North Macedonia – did as the Chairperson in Office [of the OSCE] in these difficult times. You did well and you deserve thanks for that.

I welcome the proposal that Malta will be the [OSCE] Chairman in Office for 2024 and I am looking forward to the adoption of this decision by the Ministerial Council during this meeting here in Skopje.

You know that the European Union stands with Ukraine because Ukraine’s fight is not only to restore its sovereignty and territorial integrity, its fight is also for the peace and the stability in Europe. When I am saying stability and peace in Europe, I am including the Western Balkans.

And on this note, I want to appreciate the positions of North Macedonia: your impeccable, full alignment with the European Union’s foreign policy and your continued reform efforts on the European path of your country. And in particular you, Prime Minister, personally. Your engagement, your strong engagement in order to bring North Macedonia into the European Union, your reform efforts is something that we value a lot in Brussels.

As you said, the screening process will soon be over. I have to commend your civil servants – not only you personally, but the whole administration of North Macedonia, a lot of people. The civil servants who are doing a hard work in order to make this process possible.

This is the investment in the future of your country. You are working not for your particular political party, but for the country. Going into the European path is something that should be above the inter-party competition. It should be considered as a national endeavour, and all of them should be pushing for that. It is something that the country needs.

And in order to progress in the accession negotiations, it will be crucial to build cooperation, to avoid political divide – at least on the European Union matters. I understand that you may disagree on many things, that is what democracy is about – presenting to the citizens different proposals – but it should not be a political divide on the European Union matters.

If you want to go into the European Union path, you have to complete the process of adopting the constitutional amendments and to advance in key reforms. These are in the interest of all citizens of this country. It is not something that benefits one political party in particular. It benefits the whole people. It benefits North Macedonia as a country.

I hope that last week’s adoption of new parliamentarian rules of procedure, with a full cross-party support as I understand – everybody was on board – is a good precedent. And I hope that it will be followed by further positive steps for the life of this Parliament and on the basis of the new rulebook in the next Parliament, after the elections – whenever they take place.

Allow me finally to remind you and North Macedonia that recently the European Commission, that I have the honour to vice-chair, proposed a new Growth Plan for the Western Balkans. I hope that North Macedonia will seize this substantial opportunity that this Plan offers to boost economic growth, to boost jobs and improve living standards through the access to parts of the European Single Market.

Even before joining the European Union, you have the opportunity of joining, having access to important parts of the European Single Market, which will be one of the most important economic advantages of being an [EU] Member. So, even before being a Member, you can access parts of these advantages. This is an occasion that you should seize.

For that, you have our full support. You have our full support, and we will remain on your side – I mean on the side of the Macedonian government – to accompany you as you move forward towards the final goal, with is the European Union Membership.

North Macedonia belongs in the European community, which is a community of values. Not only a community of interests, it is a community of values. I am in charge of representing both the values and the interests of the European Union in the world. From my strong understanding and my strong conviction that North Macedonia belongs in the European Union, I can only encourage you to continue the work that you are doing, in order to get full membership and in the meantime, the advantages of this Growth Plan.

Thank you.


Link to the video (starting as of 9:40):

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