President Stevo Pendarovski participated today in Brussels in the EU – Western Balkans Summit, organized by the analytical center (think-tank) Friends of Europe.
At the session during the Summit, the President said that the opening of EU membership negotiations this year is a historic moment and a significant step forward for North Macedonia, but that the beginning of this process also had a high price for our country, considering the opposition to the negotiation framework, which, in the end, was adopted. He pointed to the public opinion surveys and the decline in Euro-enthusiasm, i.e. in the support for integration in the European Union in the last 18 months. President Pendarovski said that responsible political leadership should show that this is the best alternative for our country, for prosperity and for real transformation in the vital areas of our society, stressing that this is the path from which we will not give up. On that path, he added, we expect full support from the EU and stressed the necessity for the Western Balkans to be constantly in the focus of the Union, not only when Europe faces challenges such as war or migrant crisis.
In the discussion, the President pointed out that changes are needed both in our region and in Brussels, adding that until the Union changes its decision-making method, no major progress can be expected in relation to enlargement, but also to other policies. Furthermore, he pointed out that the less the EU is present in our region, the more space will be given to Russia and various totalitarian governance models.
When asked about the role of young people in the European integration and how to increase their influence and role in the decision-making and policy-making process, President Pendarovski said that he always supported youth activism and initiatives, pointing out the establishment of the Presidential Center for Political Education aimed at strengthening democratic political values and the contribution of young people to the positive development of society.
He stressed the importance of their role in the overall progress of society, adding that it is impossible to adopt legislation in favor of the youth only, or only of the older generation, but changes are needed in favor of all generations. At the same time, he pointed out emigration and negative demography as a serious threat to our societies.
In addition to President Pendarovski, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Albania, Edi Rama, and the Prime Minister of Montenegro, Dritan Abazović, participated in the Summit.
President Pendarovski is paying a working visit to Belgium, where today in Mons he had a meeting with the Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied Powers in Europe, General Christopher Cavoli.