“If Europe wants to be taken seriously as a global player, it must seriously consider the decisions that lie ahead. The Balkans have always been a litmus test of Europe’s desire, commitment, strength and ambition. Now is the time to show this European urge and ambition again”, said Defence Minister Radmila Shekerinska at today’s Western Balkans Summit, entitled “Promoting European Inclusion and Solidarity”, held in Skopje, organized by the prestigious “The Economist”.
Mentioning the lack of enthusiasm in the European Union for the enlargement process, the Minister stressed that North Macedonia in the meantime has worked hard and delivered more than necessary.
“The Prespa Agreement, the Good Neighbourly Relations Agreement with Bulgaria, policies such as transparency, freedom of the media – all these important issues were realized because we took our task seriously and delivered. Our NATO membership, which happened last year, gave us room to breathe more freely, but for North Macedonia, we always had a double goal – that is membership in NATO and the European Union”, said Shekerinska.
Regarding the experiences from the enlargement of the Union, the Minister pointed out that although some of the member states were not happy with this process, what everyone should ask is what the European geopolitical scene would look like today, if the last two major enlargements had not taken place.
“What would be the geopolitical challenges for the European Union if the leaders of the Union 20 years ago were not brave enough to move forward. It should be a reminder to the current leaders of the European Union that security becomes a challenge every time we ignore geopolitics”, said the Minister.
Shekerinska also reminded of the importance of North Macedonia’s membership in NATO.
“The high tones between Kosovo and Serbia are worrying, but we are not afraid of a spill because we are a NATO member. That is the value of our membership as the 30th ally”, said Shekerinska.
At the panel discussion was also attended by Baiba Braže , NATO Assistant Secretary-General for Public Diplomacy, John Negroponte, former US Deputy Secretary of State, Ian Lesser, President of the German Marshall Fund, and Otto Anastasakis of the Oxford University, Minister Shekerinska concluded that what is really needed is for the European Union to deliver in terms of enlargement, just as North Macedonia delivered in terms of reforms. Otherwise, it sends the wrong message to the region, opening up the danger of long-standing frozen disputes in the Balkans.