President of North Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski will travel to Belgrade on Friday where he will meet with his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic.
In his remarks before his visit to Serbia, the President North Macedonia noted that the two neighboring and friendly countries that do not have open issues and share a common historical and strategic goal, the EU membership, have the same vision for the future.
Stevo Pendarovski expects a positive discussion with his Serbian counterpart on many issues of common interest, primarily on political, security and economic issues.
He also stressed that relations between Serbia and North Macedonia are built not only by institutions, but also by businesses, as well as many family ties between citizens of both countries.
He also recalled that the Chambers of Commerce meeting is part of the visit, demonstrating commitment to the two countries’ efforts to boost trade and economic co-operation.
Pendarovski said the “small Schengen” initiative should not be seen as a substitute for membership of the European institutions.
“I also believe that the form of the initiative should be considered, because the current structure does not cover all the countries that belong to the Western Balkans. In this respect the question can be raised how practical it would be in practice if there were only three countries as the participation of more countries in the region offers better prosperity for the whole region”, Pendarovski estimates.
He explains that at the heart of this concept there are four freedoms: the movement of people, capital, goods and services, with the aim of removing trade barriers and facilitating traffic and trade in the region.
In addition, the President of North Macedonia points out that despite differing views on NATO membership, Serbia and North Macedonia have excellent bilateral co-operation.
“As neighbors, we share a common concern for the security environment we are in and we have many exchange and training programs, so while we will soon become members of NATO and Serbia has decided otherwise, I believe we will continue to have a good cooperation in the future”, Pendarovski noted.
While recalling that North Macedonia is also involved in the European Defence Policy Initiative and, given Serbia’s strategic goal of EU integration, he said co-operation in the field of defense and security will continue in the framework of European initiatives.
The President of North Macedonia also said that during a recent meeting in Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron assured him that France would like to see North Macedonia as part of the EU, but also explained its position on reforming the negotiation methodology and explained that he did not intend to offer an alternative to the EU, but to improve the process. According to Pendarovski, Macron expressed his willingness to visit North Macedonia in the first half of 2020 and explain to the public his views, namely the operational improvement of the accession process, not just the formalities.
“The discussion with Macron was dynamic and an excellent opportunity to present our arguments for EU integration, underlining that European integration is our strategic goal and that we are ready for negotiations and with a modified methodology for pre-accession negotiations”, Pendarovski said.
Concluding his remarks, Stevo Pendarovski added that Skopje was now left to pursue reforms and wait for a new methodology for conducting pre-accession negotiations./ibna