As long as the Western Balkans is not integrated into the European Union, we cannot expect the Balkan hatred to disappear and the weak economies and interethnic relations to improve, the President of the Republic of North Macedonia, Stevo Pendarovski, said at the lecture on “The Future of North Macedonia – How to Step ​​Up the Integration to the European Union”, at the International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana.

Speaking about the case of North Macedonia, President Pendarovski said that with intensive diplomatic engagement in a very short time the state managed to solve decade-long issues. This process, according to the President, was not easy, because difficult decisions had to be taken on very sensitive issues for the citizens. According to him, the main ingredient in the whole process was the political will.

By signing the Treaty of Friendship, Good Neighborhood Relations and Cooperation with Bulgaria and the Prespa Agreement with Greece, according to President Pendarovski, North Macedonia got rid of the burden of the past.

“North Macedonia is the only country in the region that has no open issues with its neighbors. At the same time, we have opened a new opportunity for cooperation and building strategic partnerships with our neighbors”, President Pendarovski said in the lecture.

According to the President of North Macedonia, the greatest security threat to the region is mass immigration, the brain-drain. For a new era in the Balkans, as President Pendarovski said, one can speak only through integration into the European Union.

“As long as the Western Balkans is fully integrate into the European Union, we cannot expect that all Balkan hatred, weak economies and interethnic relations will be better. No one can expect that the young generations, who leave the region in mass numbers, will stop. The biggest threat to national security for all of our societies in the Western Balkans is immigration. Young people leave for a better life, a higher standard, a normal life, a peaceful life. If we do not start the negotiations with the European Union, with a prospect to finish it as soon as possible, and as soon as possible does not mean the case of Montenegro, which is negotiating seven years and is still waiting to open all 35 chapters, then we are far from the point when we can say that we have closed all these questions. In my opinion, all this should be completed, for all the countries that I mentioned from the region, for a maximum of five to six years. This is the only way we can talk about a new era in the Balkans, otherwise we will talk about conflicts, problems, and “provocative” rhetoric”, President Pendarovski said in the lecture at IFIMES.

President Pendarovski is paying an official visit to the Republic of Slovenia, where yesterday he was received in Ljubljana by President Borut Pahor in Ljubljana. Today, meetings are scheduled with the President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia, Dejan Zidan and the President of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia, Marjan Sharec.