Monday, 28 June 2021, Brussels
Address of President Xhaferi before the members of the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs
Distinguished Committee Chair, Mr. David McAllister
Allow me at the beginning to express my pleasure on holding this meeting, in which we can exchange opinions on the progress of the Republic of North Macedonia in the field of European integration. Our cooperation with the European Parliament so far, which is constantly maintained with the same intensity on several grounds, only confirms the willingness of the MPs of both parliaments for dialogue, exchange of opinions and support of our reform processes. Since the beginning of this year, besides the pandemic, a part of the newly elected fellow MPs had virtual meetings with the MEPs who are directly working on file of the Republic of North Macedonia, and the fellow women MPs who are working on gender quality had meetings with the colleagues who are in the Simone Veil Programme. Also, virtually was held the 18th meeting of the Joint Parliamentary Committee, and the MEPs Ilhan Kyuchyuk and Andreas Schiedes visited our country. On 12th May was held a virtual meeting of the Jean Monnet Dialogue, where once again was expressed the joint commitment on building trust among the current parliamentary political actors, strengthening the democratic culture and enhancing the capacities of the Assembly, with the aim of consensual adoption of a consolidated draft of the Rules of Procedures. It should enable an unhindered and improved functioning of the parliamentary work, which is of particular importance in the context of the negotiations for EU membership.
For us, your support for the achieved results and indications in the areas in which an additional progress is needed, stated in the Resolution which you as Assembly adopt every year, together with the European Commission Progress Report of the Republic of North Macedonia and the Conclusions of the European Council, represent the foundation to continue with our reform efforts to meet the necessary criteria for EU membership.
The Republic of North Macedonia in the past decade has found itself in an extremely sensitive period, both internally and externally. In terms of EU integration, the country has achieved an impressive progress in the priority areas, which has fundamentally changed certain sectors in our society and has significantly promoted the relations with neighbors to overcome the open issues. Their resolution required diplomacy, calmness and concessions which were welcomed by all our strategic friends in the European Union and the United States of America. That commitment contributed to receiving the green light by the Council of the European Union to start membership negotiations. Unfortunately, instead of negotiations we are now facing with a stalemate due to certain bilateral demands. Our view is that the agreement framework with the Republic of Bulgaria provides an adequate foundation for further cooperation and we are ready to overcome the situation in accordance with international standards.
At the same time, I want to underline that these developments should not impact on the opening of membership negotiations. If we are perceived as a region that produces more history than it consumes, we must not allow that history to swallow the future of the new generations for whom the main postulates are based on the developed technology, more jobs, digital technology, healthy environment, education and innovations, free movement of people, capital and services. We have invested too much sacrifice, time, energy and political points to deliver what we have promised, not only because of the demands of European institutions, but also for the fact that the enlargement process has proven to be a driver of the reforms in all spheres of our society.
Any delay will seriously affect the political – economic situation in our country, and also will have an impact on other countries in the region that share the same or similar open issues with their neighbors. Therefore, I consider that without delay, a date should be set for holding the first Intergovernmental Conference, which will mark the formal start of the negotiations for the Republic of North Macedonia.
Thank you for the attention.