Addressing the Assembly today, the Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs of North Macedonia remained silent in the hemicycle for sixteen seconds. “This is to illustrate the 16 years my country has been a candidate country to the EU, since 2005, and we are still not able to start the journey,” Nikola Dimitrov said.
North Macedonia is probably, he stated, “the most drastic example, from the wrong side of things, of the extension policy of the European Union. We started the journey after Slovenia and before Croatia. Croatia marks eight years of membership in the EU and we still have not started the journey.” The reason for “these lost generations was not lack of reforms, it was not because we were part of the Yugoslav wars, because we were not, it was a problem that we had with a neighbour, a problem that we resolved in 2018 with the Prespa agreement,” he added.
“It is really time to move forward,” Mr Dimitrov said, adding that this is a moment “where we have to assume responsibility”. It is time to show to the region that the EU is serious about its promise of Thessaloniki since “this unfulfilled promise takes its toll. It makes pro-European forces weaker and it makes other forces – probably more nationalistic – stronger,” he underlined.
If Europe loses the trust of the people in the Balkans that their future is with them, he concluded, “Europe risks losing this region. If we lose the European vision of the region, other more sinister visions will come into play. I appeal to European leaders to reiterate and send a strong political signal from the summit in Slovenia that the future of this region is European.”