President Stevo Pendarovski received today with the highest state and military honors the President of the Republic of Latvia, Egils Levits, who is paying an official visit to the Republic of North Macedonia.
During the visit, in addition to the tete-a-tete meeting between President Pendarovski and President Levits, a plenary meeting of the official delegations of North Macedonia and Latvia was held, followed by a joint press-conference of the two presidents.
The integral text of the statement of President Pendarovski is below:
Mr. President Levits,
Distinguished media representatives,
It is an honor and pleasure for me to host your first official visit to North Macedonia. I am glad that, despite the current tensions on our continent, you managed to realize this visit as we discussed at our meeting in Munich two years ago.
Since then, unfortunately, many things have changed for the worse, most notably the pandemic that has paralyzed our lives and the recent war in Europe, in your neighborhood, but not so far from us as well.
Immediately after our meeting at the Munich Security Conference I already mentioned, we formally became NATO allies and our cooperation expanded to the area most talked about today – ensuring lasting peace and prosperity in Europe.
What has unfortunately remained unchanged in the meantime is the fact that we are still waiting for the formal start of negotiations with the European Union. We have dedicated a significant part of our talks on this topic this morning, and we will continue during the day.
I am grateful that Latvia is one of the member states of the Union that has long recognized our readiness, commitment and sacrifice to achieve the strategic goal – EU membership. You and the Latvian political leadership absolutely understand that peace and security in Europe are directly correlated, among other things, with the Union’s decisions on its enlargement.
In that context, I would like to thank you for your sincere commitment to intensifying the enlargement policy with all the countries of the Western Balkans. Your experience, both as a country and as a region, is an additional argument for starting accession negotiations as a contribution to intensifying democratic reforms in society. Moreover, your readiness to share your own experiences of the European integration process is of great importance to us.
We also talked about the Russian military aggression in Ukraine. Unfortunately, contrary to all international norms, the Russian military has been demonstrating force for two months now, killing civilians and destroying entire cities in Ukraine. North Macedonia and Latvia, in addition to condemning the Russian military invasion, have joined the full package of EU sanctions against Russia.
In this context, through solidarity and joint efforts with the Allies, we contribute to creating preconditions to put an end to the war, for re-establishing peace and security on our continent and buffering the enormous humanitarian and refugee crisis.
In the talks we exchanged views on the current situation in our region. The Balkans and the Baltics, despite their geographical distance, have great potential for rapprochement along many lines, especially in the economic, trade, cultural and digital spheres.
I am convinced that by making additional efforts, with the assistance of Brussels, we can “copy” the success that Euro-Atlantic integration has stimulated in the Baltic and the positive transformation there, which is an inspiration for us.
Let me state that in the open and friendly meeting with my colleague Levits, the sincere support of Latvia regarding the Macedonian place in the United Europe was confirmed again.
Let me warmly welcome you to Skopje and wish you a successful regional tour.