North Macedonia: Restrained optimism after the release of the European Commission’s report

North Macedonia: Restrained optimism after the release of the European Commission’s report

The European Commission’s report, released Monday, which praises North Macedonia’s progress and recommends anew the start of accession negotiations, has brought optimism among politicians in the country and foreign diplomats that the European Council will decide on the start of the accession negotiation process.

Prime Minister of North Macedonia Oliver Spasovski said the European Commission’s report is amazing and excellent and confirms the government’s efforts to implement reforms, so that it is reasonable to expect to get what we deserve, that is, for the accession negotiation process to start.

“The report clearly states that the government has stepped up its efforts to implement reforms. It concludes that everything that has been done has given positive reviews for North Macedonia; all the steps that need to be taken in the reform process have been taken and this is a good basis for starting accession negotiations with the EU as soon as possible”, Spasovski said.

Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov believes that after the positive EC report, it is time for Europe to make a concrete and sustainable decision to open accession negotiations.

“After the experience of the last two years, unfortunately, we cannot afford to be happy. I think we need to what to see this decision first”, Dimitrov said in a televised interview.

According to him, the report is more than good and excellent, as it says that despite October’s disappointment, North Macedonia has stepped up, accelerated reform efforts, which has yielded tangible and sustainable results.

“Now we have a framework where the ingredients for success are obvious. We have a mini-report and it is now time to start accession negotiations and I hope that Europe will use it to implement this. If the EU does not implement it in this context, the biggest victim will be enlargement policy, ie the EU will signal that the door is closed in an area surrounded by Member States and I think they will not do that”, Dimitrov added.

The big parties also have positive expectations for a quick start to the negotiations. The Social Democratic Party (SDSM) believes that the positive report of the European Commission is a confirmation of the successful policies for European integration of the party and party leader Zoran Zaev, while the conservative and nationalist VMRO-DPMNE believes the country deserved to get an EU accession negotiations date much earlier.

The impetus for optimism about the start of negotiations was given by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who said that following positive European Commission assessments for North Macedonia and Albania, Germany wants a speedy start of accession negotiations for two countries in the EU.

EU Ambassador to North Macedonia, Samuel Zbogar, believes that North Macedonia has done its job and is now the turn of the Member States, believing that the stars are in place (new members in the EU) and hopes that a decision will finally be taken to open accession negotiations.

According to him, all EU member states are satisfied with the negotiation methodology, so he does not expect major problems when it is approved by the EU summit on March 26, which should discuss the decision to open accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania.

French Ambassador to North Macedonia Christian Thimonier said in a meeting with Prime Minister Oliver Spasovski yesterday that France is optimistic about the European Commission’s report and the enlargement methodology, as an encouraging basis for the decision to start accession talks with North Macedonia./ibna