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INTEGRATION Zaev – Geer: Every effort to be made to hold first intergovernmental conference by year’s end & start talks

Officials should make every effort to uphold the European Union’s historic decision to open negotiations with North Macedonia and hold the first intergovernmental conference by the end of 2020 during the German EU presidency, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and EU Ambassador David Geer agreed during a working meeting Friday.

According to the official press release, the government remains firmly committed to achieving the country’s strategic goal of EU integration, Prime Minister Zaev said.

He also recalled the conclusions of the March 2020 Council of the EU, which confirmed the country was ready to open its accession negotiations with the EU.

EU Ambassador Geer and the PM acknowledged the sustained efforts the government has been making, in accord with the European Commission’s 2020 Report recommendations, to intensify EU reforms within the country efficiently and inclusively.

In addition, Zaev expressed his gratitude for the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans adopted by the EU as a strong signal of the EU’s commitment to the region’s economic progress.

EU Ambassador Geer highlighted the importance of sustained efforts toward resolving outstanding bilateral issues. He welcomed the government’s commitment to implementing EU reforms, which he said are both in the interest of all citizens and crucial for North Macedonia’s getting closer to EU accession.

Regarding the coronavirus pandemic, Ambassador Geer recalled the EU’s extensive support to North Macedonia’s health care system as well as job protection measures. PM Zaev thanked him for the EU’s help in dealing with the pandemic by sending humanitarian aid and financial assistance.

One of the conclusions from the meeting was that the Economic and Investment Plan adopted by the EU — which had been presented EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Olivér Várhelyi in October — would offer substantial support for post-Covid economic recovery through significant investments in connectivity, green and digital transformation, business, and human capital.

Also discussed were the outcomes of the Berlin Process Sofia Summit, which North Macedonia and Bulgaria co-chaired on Nov. 10.

The EU Ambassador welcomed the commitments made to establish a common regional market based on the European single market principles — free movement of persons, goods, services, and capital — stressing this would bring benefits along with greater integration within the Western Balkans and the EU.

Both Geer and Zaev highlighted the importance of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans, which regional leaders have committed to and which has laid the groundwork for solving some of the most burning issues of the day, including the climate emergency, environmental degradation, and biodiversity loss.

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