I am specially honored to receive the Letters of Credence of His Excellency, Charles Michel, President of the European Council, and of Her Excellency, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, appointing you as the new Ambassador and Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of North Macedonia.
On my personal behalf and on behalf of the Macedonian citizens, let me wish you a warm welcome, a successful stay and fruitful cooperation with all institutions, civic associations and individuals in North Macedonia.
We highly appreciate your rich diplomatic experience and we believe that it will be a significant contribution to the advancement of the Euro-integration file of North Macedonia and our relations with the European Union.
I assure you that in the performance of your diplomatic duties, you shall enjoy our full cooperation and assistance.
Your appointment takes place in an extremely important moment for our country, because after the signing of the Prespa Agreement with Greece and the Agreement on Friendship, Good Neighborliness and Cooperation with Bulgaria, we have set a new milestone in our development and decided to make up for the lost time in fulfilling our key goals.
As you already know well, this year North Macedonia has fulfilled one of its strategic priorities with NATO membership and in March it received the green light from the European Council to start accession negotiations with the European Union.
Now, in the period ahead, it is time for the decision to start negotiations to become effective with the adoption of the negotiating framework by the Council of the EU as soon as possible and to schedule the first Intergovernmental Conference between the European Union and North Macedonia that will mark the official beginning of the negotiations.
In this context, I would like to express my gratitude to the European Commission and the European External Action Service, the institution you come from, for their wholehearted support and I think that the joint efforts of the German Presidency with the Council of the European Union are an excellent opportunity to achieve the set goal by the end of the year.
We follow closely and cautiously the discussions on the negotiating framework between the member-states in the working bodies of the Council of the EU and we are convinced that the member-states can overcome the remaining bilateral differences and challenges only through dialogue and mutual respect for the principles and fundamental values of the European Union.
In that regard, as a candidate country for membership we are determined to continue implementing the mutually undertaken obligations of the Prespa Agreement with Greece and the Agreement on Friendship, Good Neighborliness and Cooperation with Bulgaria with an open mind and good will in the period to come.
I am convinced that the start of negotiations and the revised methodology will not only contribute to the further stabilization of the situation in the Western Balkans, but will enable us, as a country, to implement the necessary reforms faster and more efficiently, especially in the fight against organized crime and high corruption. Building a functioning rule of law, centered on an independent and efficient judiciary, is one of our strategic priorities, where all institutions are committed to achieving this goal. Rest assured that for the achievement of this strategic goal all institutions have my full support.
North Macedonia is confident and ready to take that path and in the future to contribute to the unity and projecting of the European Union as a global power in the world.
Distinguished Mr. Ambassador,
In the end, I would like to thank the European Union for its selfless assistance during the Covid-19 crisis, which is still present. We are grateful for the visibly demonstrated solidarity and assistance in the form of urgent support for the health sector, the financial package for dealing with the socio-economic consequences, as well as the macro-financial assistance that will significantly complement them.
We highly appreciate the unprecedented access provided to other EU mechanisms and instruments, as well as the joint efforts to safely return our citizens home.
Your Excellency, let me wish you once again much success and good health in performing your responsible duty.
Address by the Ambassador and Head of the EU Delegation to Skopje, David Geer
It is for me a great honour to present to you the letters by which the European Union institutions have accredited me as Head of Delegation to the Republic of North Macedonia. On behalf of President Charles Michel and President Ursula von der Leyen, I am pleased to convey the most respectful greetings to you and your country.
I am taking up this position in uncommon circumstances. Uncommon enough to exclude even the traditional handshake that would normally seal such an occasion. Serious enough to affect our shared sense of security and disturb our freedom of movement. But formative enough to make us learn valuable lessons for the future. On how to move from a situation of fragility to one of renewed vitality.
I am proud to stand before you to represent the EU and its values. The value of peace that allowed us to unite and to prosper. The value of solidarity that will get us through this pandemic. The value of human dignity that unites us all in a diversity that we can celebrate.
Last March the Council of the European Union took the historic decision to open membership negotiations with North Macedonia. This came following significant reform
achievements, hard decisions that confirmed this country’s chosen direction. Now we can all look ahead to the formal start of negotiations at the Intergovernmental Conference.
It will be a momentous occasion that confirms the longstanding view that the future of this entire region lies in the EU. As President von der Layen put it aptly in her State of the Union Address last week “We share the same history, we share the same destiny. The Western Balkans are part of Europe – and not just a stopover on the Silk Road”.
The accession talks will be demanding and rewarding in equal measure. The rule of law will be central. It is the starting point, but also the final step in the negotiations. The process is also about upholding democracy and dialogue, protecting human rights and the environment and forging a sustainable economy at the service of citizens. EU reforms and improving the lives and prospects of people are not competing priorities, but rather mutually reinforcing efforts. They involve a process of positive reform in the interests of the freedoms, prosperity and security of ordinary Macedonians.
Alongside the negotiations, the EU will continue to provide assistance to North Macedonia as it carries out reforms that will bring the country closer to the EU. In the next weeks, the European Union will be presenting a very significant economic initiative for the Western Balkans that will strengthen the infrastructure of the region and speed up its integration with the EU economy. It is an initiative that follows the longstanding call of European Council President Charles Michel that Western Balkan countries be fully integrated in the pan-European transport corridors. These will not be simple investments in neighbouring countries, these will be investments in the enlarged EU that we will build together.
In recent months, the EU gave a practical illustration of the value of solidarity by providing considerable assistance to tackle the pandemic in this country, even as our own member states were grappling with its effects. I have been told that this made some Macedonians feel almost part of the European Union family. Let me assure you, Mr. President that during my time in this vibrant country I will spare no effort to bring that feeling ever closer to a reality.
In doing so I look forward to working with Your Excellency, with parliament, with government, with the opposition and all actors and sectors of society across the country that must be at the centre of this great endeavour to see North Macedonia take its place as a member of the European Union.
I now have the honour to present my letters of credence.