The President of the Republic of North Macedonia, Stevo Pendarovski, met this evening with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, who is paying a working visit to the Republic of North Macedonia.

President Pendarovski, at the joint press conference, thanked the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, for publicly expressing his support for the start of pre-accession negotiations with North Macedonia at the beginning of his term, as his visit is an assurance that he is a strong supporter of the EU enlargement.

The following is the integral text of the address.

Respected citizens,

Respected representatives of the media,

Distinguished Mr. Charles Michel, President of the European Council,

It is my pleasure to be the host of your first visit to the Republic of North Macedonia.

At the same time, I congratulate you on assuming the office of the President of the European Council and wish you every success in your very responsible work in the years to come. I hope that we will have good cooperation and in the course of your term we will see positive progress in our European integration.

Today we had the opportunity to discuss the upcoming important period in the process of our accession to the European Union.

I take this opportunity to thank you because at the beginning of your term you have publicly expressed support for launching pre-accession negotiations for North Macedonia, and your visit is an assurance that we have a strong supporter of the EU enlargement in you.

Last October, despite our high expectations based on unambiguous announcements and promises by the EU institutions and by a number of member states, we received unpleasant news about our European integration.

But EU membership, without any reservations, is our main strategic goal and we continue to work towards its fulfillment.

We hope that very soon, even in March this year, the new methodology for conducting pre-accession negotiations for EU membership will be adopted and that there will be positive news for our European integration soon. We expect that the new methodology will strengthen the pre-accession negotiation process, both politically and in terms of credibility and sustainability. As I said at our meeting, we are ready to adopt the new methodology for conducting pre-accession negotiations because our interest is a sustainable and credible process of joining the Union.

As I said, EU membership has been a strategic goal of our country for almost three decades, a goal that is supported by a broad national consensus, as well as a high level of citizen support.

Therefore, all politicians, who are in charge of the state institutions and those in opposition, are expected to continue working on the country’s reform agenda as intensively as we have worked on resolving the issues with our neighbors and on improving the good neighborly relations.

Full commitment is needed to carry out key reforms, as well as to organize democratic, free and fair elections.

Distinguished Mr. Michel,

European integration is not only important for North Macedonia. EU enlargement is important for the whole region. The EU accession process has proven to be an important mechanism for enhancing stability, democratization and economic prosperity for the countries that joined the Union.

We are soon becoming a full-fledged NATO member, thus completing the fulfillment of one of our two strategic goals we have been working on for decades. I hope this spring will bring us positive news about our second strategic goal – EU membership.

Thank you.

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