Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met with the President of the Republic of North Macedonia, Stevo Pendarovski, who is on an official visit to Greece at the invitation of the President of the Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou.
Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Stevo Pendarovski confirmed the significant momentum that is building in bilateral relations in all areas of mutual interest. They agreed on the need to deepen and broaden bilateral cooperation, with emphasis on the sectors of economy, investment, energy and connectivity.
The Prime Minister reaffirmed Greece’s support for the European accession path of the Western Balkans and North Macedonia in particular, in accordance with the criteria set.
In this context, he underlined that the strengthening of relations between the two countries and Athens’ support for the European accession path of the neighbouring country are fully linked to the full, consistent and good faith implementation of the Prespa Agreement, which is an integral part of the enlargement process.
On the Greek side, the meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Diplomacy and External Relations Costas Fragogogiannis, the Director of the Prime Minister’s Diplomatic Office, Ambassador Eleni Surani, the Greek Ambassador to North Macedonia Roussos Koundouros and Deputy Government Spokesperson Aristotelia Peloni.
At the beginning of the meeting between the two men, Kyriakos Mitsotakis said: “It is a great pleasure to welcome you in Athens. I would also like to express in person my sincere condolences for the death of 14 people in the devastating fire on the day when your country was celebrating the 30th anniversary of its independence.
We attach great importance, as you know, to strengthening and deepening our bilateral relations and to advancing the accession process for North Macedonia. It is a subject that we will have the opportunity to discuss tomorrow in Slovenia, in the context of the EU-Western Balkans Summit.
I am pleased that our bilateral cooperation is progressing steadily on energy, defence, interconnectivity and cross-border cooperation. I look forward to discussing all aspects of our bilateral cooperation. Again, welcome to Athens, Mr. President,” Kyriakos Mitsotakis noted.
In his address, the President of North Macedonia noted: “Thank you Mr. Prime Minister. This is a historic visit at the highest level, given the meeting of the two Presidents of the Republic and, of course, the meeting with you, the Prime Minister of Greece, in the context of an official visit. Thank you for your time.
I know that you will be leaving today for the EU-Western Balkans Summit. Very soon I would like to start with that – given the presence of the media. Greece is among the most ardent supporters of North Macedonia’s EU membership.
We expect that tomorrow, in Slovenia, together with many other European friends, you will support the demand of all the countries of the Western Balkans, but especially the country from which I come and of which I am President, North Macedonia. We should finally start accession negotiations with the European Union, which we have been waiting for a long time, as we meet all the conditions.
We are currently in the midst of trying to find common ground with our friends in Bulgaria. We do not want to take a shortcut on the road to the EU, but to fulfil all the conditions, all the procedures that are laid down. And to be treated on an equal footing with everyone else.
However, we have been waiting for 16.5 years. We are a candidate country and the time has come to start negotiations, which will take years. Therefore, what we are asking for is not to become members overnight, but to be given the opportunity to start negotiations. And then for us and many of our European friends to complete all the accession modules, the former chapters. So we are ready. We are probably the best prepared candidate country in the history of the European Union.
So we need, we deserve a real opportunity to start negotiations and we are counting on you, on your support, as always. And especially in the last 2.5 years, since the signing of the Prespa Agreement. So, there is an upgrade here. I always remind those who forget that the second part of the agreement is about establishing a strategic partnership, not just the name issue. You are well aware of this aspect of our bilateral relationship.
Thank you for all the effort you have made so far and we look forward to a few more efforts tomorrow” concluded Stevo Pendarovski./ibna