"We believe we have pretty solid arguments on which our expectations are be founded. We've informed Juncker about the arguments and the efforts made by the new government formed after a prolonged and deep political crisis," Premier Zaev stated after his meeting with Juncker.
Zaev mentioned that the government had passed an urgent reform plan, commonly referred to as Plan 3-6-9, noting that all benchmarks of the plan had been implemented 'successfully and intensively' in the past five months, the government said in a press release.
"A lot of energy has been invested in the areas designated as top priority in the report of the Senior Experts' Group on systemic Rule of Law, supported by the European Commission, namely judiciary, reforms of intelligence services, reforms in the public administration and reinforcement of the independent regulatory bodies and media," the Premier said stressing that vital and major steps for substantial reforms had been taken in all of these areas.
According to him, the main motive is to build strong public trust in institutions. - The judiciary, public administration and public services are being transformed profoundly. We are accelerating the economic growth in Macedonia," PM Zaev said.
Noting that the government was committed to improving relations with all neighboring countries, he said there was willingness and preparedness to focus on the confidence building measures with Greece and to settle the name dispute in UN-brokered negotiations.
Zaev said that Macedonia would deliver results and expected from the European institutions to recognize and evaluate them fairly, so 'we view the 2018 as vital year for the future of our country and the entire Balkan region.'
'We expect for Macedonia to become part of EU enlargement strategy to be published next year. We expect clean European Commission's recommendation for commencing the EU-accession talks, as well as a possible European Council's decision for their actual launch in 2018,' Zaev said.
Juncker affirmed the EC's commitment to prepare and carry out the next EU enlargement round, especially with the Western Balkan countries.
Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn called on Macedonia to keep implementing the reform plan 3-6-9, based on the Przino Agreement and the recommendations of expert group, led by Reinhard Priebe.
Macedonia's EU-accession talks is a process of national interest and all stakeholders should support it as part of the country's strategic goals, the officials told the press conference.