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Plenković calls for resolution of dispute between Bulgaria and North Macedonia

Croatia has done a lot to help unblock the process of EU membership negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania and hopes that the outstanding issues between Bulgaria and North Macedonia will be resolved as soon as possible so that the two countries can get a date for the opening of talks, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday.

Zagreb, 17 June 2021 (HINA/MIA) – Croatia has done a lot to help unblock the process of EU membership negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania and hopes that the outstanding issues between Bulgaria and North Macedonia will be resolved as soon as possible so that the two countries can get a date for the opening of talks, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday.

The Croatian prime minister is attending the summit of the South-East Europe Cooperation Process (SEECP), the regional initiative launched 25 years ago, in the Turkish city of Antalya.

This year’s summit is being held under Turkey’s chairmanship. Greece will hold the chairmanship in 2021/2022.

Plenković said that Croatia is one of the countries that support the EU enlargement process, recalling that during last year’s summit in Zagreb, held online because of the coronavirus pandemic, Croatia had done a lot to help unblock the process of negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania.

“Today I said that we want all the remaining issues between Bulgaria and North Macedonia resolved so that a date can be set for the opening of negotiations between these two countries (Albania and North Macedonia),” Plenković told the press.

The summit adopted a document on the prospects of development of South-East Europe until 2030 in the context of global and European challenges.

“The document calls for improving cooperation, both bilateral and regional, and for gradual support to those countries that have an ambition to join the European Union,” Plenković said.

He said that cooperation in infrastructure projects, economic cooperation and trade was crucial, warning of the problem of negative demographic trends faced by the entire region.

“It is also important to try and connect basic European policies, notably those concerning recovery, resilience, green transition and digital transformation, as well as key lines of action to help the countries of South-East Europe reach the standards and join the organisations they are still not members of,” he added.

In his speech, Plenković said that Croatia had demonstrated solidarity in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by donating vaccines to five SEECP countries. “We will continue to do so in the future because we think that cooperation and solidarity are key to protecting all our citizens against the pandemic.”

Speaking of the closing declaration, he said that the document raised all issues relating to cooperation without going into internal affairs of any of the SEECP countries.

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