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North Macedonia case is test of EU’s credibility on Western Balkans, Dimitrov tells ‘To Vima’

Our case is a test of EU’s credibility on the Western Balkans, Deputy PM for European Affairs Nikola Dimitrov has told Greek daily To Vima, MIA reports from Athens.

Athens, 26 April 2021 (MIA) – Our case is a test of EU’s credibility on the Western Balkans, Deputy PM for European Affairs Nikola Dimitrov has told Greek daily To Vima, MIA reports from Athens.

“Many will ask if the EU is serious in its intentions. To this, we should also add the recent release of the controversial non paper on border revision and the formation of grand states, in a time when we need a ‘European Balkans’ where borders will be less important,” says Deputy PM Dimitrov.

He expresses Skopje’s readiness for cooperation with the next government in Sofia and adds “it will be a major strategic mistake if we fail to find a solution”.

“We have to consider European principles. I believe that goodneighborly relations are there when a European country accepts its neighbor’s self-determination right. One cannot challenge the Macedonian language on the country’s path to Europe if Europe is a community of values and prides itself on the linguistic diversity. There are international and European laws that govern relations among countries. Identity and language are issues related to each individual country,” says Dimitrov and notes that the accession process refers to issues such as rule of law and fight against corruption, not matters unrelated to European legislation.

According to him, there is “a window of opportunity by July to set a date for the start of North Macedonia’s EU accession negotiations.”

On relations with Greece, the Deputy PM says they are open, friendly, with both countries demonstrating mutual trust.

“The Prespa Agreement undoubtedly unlocked the dynamics of bilateral relations but we have not managed to achieve the full potential due to the pandemic. Our cooperation in the energy field is very good,” says Dimitrov and recalls the recent signing of the Memorandum of Understanding over North Macedonia’s participation in the project on the construction of the Alexandroupoli gas terminal.

Regarding the bilateral commission on textbooks arising from the Prespa Agreement, he says six meetings have taken place this far, and the next one is expected very soon.

Dimitrov stresses that the Prespa Agreement is not an easy compromise for any of the parties, “but it important on the long run, opening the EU integration doors”.

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