North Macedonia: Berlin Process Summit begins today in Skopje

North Macedonia: Berlin Process Summit begins today in Skopje

The joint presidency of the Berlin Process of North Macedonia and Bulgaria for 2020 begins in Skopje today with the foreign ministers meeting.

In addition to the foreign ministers of the countries involved in the Berlin process from the European Union and the Western Balkans, representatives of EU institutions and the Regional Cooperation Council will also attend the meeting.

The foreign ministers attending the meeting will be Ekaterina Zaharieva from Bulgaria, Ivica Dacic from Serbia, Srđan Darmanović from Montenegro, Heiko Maas from Germany, Luigi di Maio from Italy and the deputy foreign minister Gent Cakaj of Albania.

The meeting, according to the Foreign Ministry of North Macedonia, will be opened by Foreign Minister of North Macedonia, Nikola Dimitrov, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. Prime Minister of the Technical Government of North Macedonia Oliver Spasovski will also make an address.

It is the first time since 2015 that a Member State and a candidate country have co-chaired the Berlin process. The joint presidency of Bulgaria and North Macedonia is a strong signal of regional involvement and the opportunity to present important regional issues in a wider European context.

During the meeting, the priority agenda of the Joint Presidency will be announced, aimed at enhancing the integration and link between the EU and the countries of the Western Balkans from a political, legal and socio-economic perspective. Issues related to regional co-operation and the European perspective of the region will be discussed at the March European Council and the Zagreb Summit. A joint statement is expected after the meeting.

“The ministerial meeting is the first event under the joint presidency of the Berlin process. This is also the first joint presidency of the Berlin process between a Member State and an EU candidate country, which is a confirmation and impetus for enhanced regional cooperation in the context of European integration. The meeting is a great opportunity to demonstrate a strong political vision and send clear and common messages on regional co-operation and European prospects in the region ahead of the upcoming European Council and Zagreb summit”, Dimitrov said before the meeting.

Meanwhile, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva said Bulgaria, as co-chair of North Macedonia, is determined to continue working to increase positive examples of good neighborly relations between the states in the region.

“This is the way to ensure regional stability and to resolve any open issues. The meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Berlin Western Balkans Process in Skopje is the first of a number of important forums we are planning under our joint presidency. The culmination of our joint efforts as part of this regional initiative to support the European perspective of the Western Balkans will be the Summit in Sofia in the fall”, Zaharieva said.

The meeting is expected to confirm the strategic interest of the countries in the region to become full members of the EU, building a peaceful, stable and prosperous region in a strong and united Europe. It is expected that a message will be sent that the region should show its maturity in the coming period and show that it is a credible EU partner in meeting common challenges, based on genuine will for reforms and concrete results.

Under the Joint Presidency, a ThinkTank Forum will be held in Skopje 8-10 March, organized by the Institute for Democracy Societas Civilis – Skopje in co-operation with the European Foreign Policy Council (ECFR), from Sofia.

Ministers Dimitrov and Zaharieva will speak at the ThinkTank forum, while tomorrow’s joint thematic groups will include foreign ministers, EU representatives, from the Regional Cooperation Council and the think-tank community/ibna