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European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR)
News article19 July 2022Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations2 min read

Remarks at the press conference with Jan Lipavský, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and Dimitar Kovačevski, Prime Minister of North Macedonia following the first Intergovernmental Conference on the Accession of North Macedonia

Intergovernmental Conference on the Accession of North Macedonia

Dear Prime Minister Kovačevski,

Dear Minister Lipavský,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today is not only an important moment for North Macedonia but also for the European Union. This political Intergovernmental Conference is the end of a long process and the beginning of a new phase of accession negotiations; something we hope to see going much faster.

First, I want to commend the tireless efforts of the Presidency and also in particular the French Presidency in advancing our common objective. I also appreciate the strong engagement of all EU Member States and their very high-level participation today, and their political commitment to make Europe move forward.

This Intergovernmental Conference is of a significant importance for three reasons:

First, this marks the beginning of a new chapter in the accession process for North Macedonia into the European Union - seventeen years after the candidate status and thirteen years after our first recommendation to open accession negotiations. The country has shown resilience all the way, and also determination to advance on the EU path, and throughout the road, North Macedonia was and is a reliable partner. It is also a well-deserved recognition of all the progress of course that your country has made, Prime Minister, in the past years in advancing the EU reforms.

Second, for the very first time, we apply the revised enlargement methodology in its entirety with the new accession negotiations.

And third, our message today to the citizens of North Macedonia is very clear: we want you in the EU. There is no doubt about that. Today we also send a very powerful message to the whole region and even beyond that.

On the Commission’s side, we will continue to do all we can to speed up the pace of the accession negotiations and process for North Macedonia. No later than this afternoon, we will launch the screening of the EU acquis, and this is the first step in the process of the accession negotiations.

I am very confident that with the determination of North Macedonia, we can work quickly and hardly and also effectively throughout the negotiations. Prime Minister, I want to count on you and your team to ensure wide national consensus on this path. I know it has not been easy, but you have opted for the most democratic process: to ask the parliament. And the sovereign has made it very clear; the sovereign, the representatives of the people made it very clear that they want this to go forward, and they want the accession process to accelerate. So today, Europe also made the decision. Europe also agreed with your parliament. I think these are the moments that we need, these are the moments that are capable of changing Europe and moving Europe forward.

Of course, we want you to continue to reach out to the stakeholders, the civil society, to engage with everybody in North Macedonia because we will need in this process everybody in North Macedonia to work for the country and to work for North Macedonia becoming an EU Member State. Because negotiations are transformative processes, I am very hopeful that we will have immediate positive impact on the society, the economy and this will bring immediate benefits to the citizens in the country as we speak.

You can continue to count on our support, and we will continue building a common, prosperous, secure future together.

Thank you!