A strong message from the Prime Ministers of Northern Macedonia and Albania after the failure of the EU ministers to lift the Bulgarian veto on the accession process of Northern Macedonia was sent at a joint press conference of Zaev and Rama from Skopje.
“The Balkans stand up for European values, not the EU,” Zoran Zaev and Edi Rama said in a statement.
The European Union does not have the exclusivity of Europe, especially when it does not keep its promises. Even today, European values are defended by the countries of the Western Balkans, but not by the European Union itself, which promotes them.
The joint statement during the Skopje Economic Forum was read by Zaev and the way he presented it (in a stern tone) and what he read was clear to the leaders of the two countries that they were “boiling” from the constant promises, the delays and frustrations from the EU. However, they said they remained committed to the European course, despite the fact that the Union did not keep its promises and commitments. Zoran Zaev called Edi Rama as “a colleague, a friend, a companion, a brother.”
“Europe has a problem. The great visionary idea of a united Europe has a problem today. And the problem is the EU itself. Brussels has told us that they have not been able to find a way to ensure the worthy integration of the Western Balkans. This is the problem. The fact that 26 EU Member States cannot prevent the exclusion of one country is a problem of Europe caused by the EU itself,” Zaev said at the beginning of the statement.
According to Zaev, North Macedonia and Albania are not alone and will not be alone, nor isolated. The peoples of North Macedonia and Albania have before them the same path, the same vision, the same values - European values, not policies of walls and divisions. Stressing that the other four Western Balkan countries are with them, Zaev said: “We are Europe, regardless of whether the EU lifts the blockades or not.”
Then, in a message to domestic and European politicians, Zaev and Rama state the paradox of the moment: “The alarm is activated. The essence and values of the EU are in question. European values are being confirmed today by the Western Balkans.”
Zaev said negotiations with the EU should not be turned into negotiations with Bulgaria and that European integration should not be held hostage to bilateral issues.
“Our progress towards EU membership must depend primarily on internal reforms related to chapters, EU legislation and the achievement of European standards. That is why we believe that bilateral issues should not be included in the negotiations or in the framework. It is a dangerous precedent and is a common position of all other EU Member States. The national identity of North Macedonia is simply impossible to negotiate. “We have shown courage and sincere will to resolve bilateral relations through mutual respect and protection of national dignity,” said the Prime Minister of North Macedonia.
According to Zaev and Rama, the EU decision is a huge failure for enlargement policy and a bad message for the whole region.
Zaev said that he went to Sofia with an open heart and a hand of friendship to find a solution and readiness to move forward with Bulgaria. However, “despite the support of the entire international community, the Bulgarian counterparts failed to gather enough strength and approve the start of negotiations with Northern Macedonia and Albania.” According to him, Bulgaria ‘s position is not in the spirit of good neighborly relations.
On behalf of himself and Rama, he said European leaders must take seriously the fact that endless and recurring frustrations inevitably open the door to them and encourage Eurosceptics. “That is why the EU must find a formula to keep its word and continue enlargement in the Western Balkans.”
Finally, he sent a personal message: “Those who know me well know that I will not give up. To those who do not know me, to know that I do not give up. I will go to Sofia again, again, again and I will look for a solution and we will succeed “.
Edi Rama had a short speech in which he stressed that the EU failed to make the right decision once again. “Whatever happens, whatever is decided in Brussels, we will remain committed to strengthening the economy, improving the well-being of our peoples and maintaining our dignity. The EU can set tasks, it can set deadlines, dates, but it cannot change the position of Albania and Northern Macedonia, which are in the middle of Europe, nor the future of our peoples as European nations in the European family,” Rama said for the Bulgarian veto.
According to him, Albania has completed its task since the time of Skanderbeg and the revivalists. For us, the sun rises where it sets, and our future is where God has ordained us to have our own country, in the heart of Europe. The EU has failed to live up to its promise, to stay committed and to be on the right track,” Rama said.
He added that progress will continue with all its might, because it is not imposed on us from outside, but from within us, and will not only depend on the EU’s attitude towards us, and regional cooperation will continue.
“The fusion of borders between us is to turn our region into a place for the full implementation of the four EU freedoms: freedom of movement of people, goods, services and capital. It will continue unabated because we are too small to have strong economies that remain separate from each other. But we are big enough if we turn the area into a common economic space between them. “/ ibna