The better the reform process is, the faster there is the possibility for accession. The window of opportunity is now open. This process is not rigid, it is merit-based, so nobody has to wait for a certain date, said the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in answer to media questions at a joint press conference Monday with Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski, writes news agency MIA.
Asked whether 2030 is an attainable goal for both the Western Balkan countries and the European Union to fulfill their tasks, the President of the EC said, “things really changed for the better because what we see now is a true momentum in the process of enlargement.”
“We want the Western Balkans to join the European Union, and for that you have to get ready, and we have to get ready. It is very good that now concrete discussions have started within the European Union – what do we have to do to be ready; what are the questions that are open; what are the answers that we have to give. This was not the case in the last mandate for example, so something substantial changed in this mandate, it’s getting concrete. And therefore my plea and encouragement also to move forward in the different countries of the Western Balkans because this is the window of opportunity that is now open. And again, this process is not rigid, it is merit-based, so nobody has to wait for a certain date. You can be faster, the better the reform process is, the faster there is the possibility for accession and this is very important. So, there is a window of opportunity open, let’s seize together this moment,” stressed von der Leyen.
In terms of the constitutional amendments, President von der Leyen said, “North Macedonia is a sovereign country that makes its own choices.”
“The choice is on you. Therefore, I deeply hope that all parties will seize that moment and support the constitutional changes, because it is your future, it is your choice, and all parties have a responsibility for the future of North Macedonia. We want North Macedonia as a member of the EU, and I hope that therefore the move forward is a good one, supported by a broad majority,” said von der Leyen.
Asked why she won’t meet with VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski, and whether it is possible for the country to receive “unconditional negotiations”, as per Mickoski’s statement, the EC President reiterated that “the constitutional changes are a necessary step on the path of accession to the European Union.”
“The constitutional changes are a necessary step on the path of accession to the European Union, and it is amazing again what North Macedonia has already achieved. Therefore, I very much wish that North Macedonia is moving forward as it did, with determination, with passion and with big success on the accession path. It is absolutely usual that wherever I am, I meet the head of state and government, depending on how the constitution is, so this is the case in my Western Balkan trip here, but this is the case in every trip whether it’s abroad or for example also in the European Union when I visit member states, there is the rule that I meet with the head of state or government,” said von der Leyen.
After the press conference, President von der Leyen and Prime Minister Kovachevski will visit a fruit and vegetable processing plant near Skopje, which has received EU funds within the IPARD programme.