Finnish FM Haavisto: North Macedonia will remember Finland’s EU presidency

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said Wednesday that Finland’s presidency with the European Union would be remembered by the decision for starting accession negotiations. Foreign Minister Haavisto visited North Macedonia two weeks before the Council of the European Union announces the decision regarding the country’s accession talks start date.
“We all witnessed the steps North Macedonia’s government took to secure accession to the EU. We monitor events, especially in the area of the rule of law, where some issues remain open. Enlargement is a major step forward for the European Union and I hope that this fall, North Macedonia and Albania are given dates to start accession talks,” Haavisto said.
He added the opinions of all EU member states are equally respected in the decision-making process.
“The German Bundestag reached a positive decision, but we have to wait for every EU member state to express their position on enlargement,” Haavisto said.
He added that Brussels’ attention is currently focused on Brexit and the migrant crisis.
The EU, Haavisto said, sometimes acts slower than usual, especially when it faces issues with rule of law and the respect of European values.
His attitude regarding the decision for North Macedonia’s accession talks start date is neutral, but he insisted that the debate in Brussels has intensified and positive comments abound.
Haavisto congratulated North Macedonia on the progress the country has made, especially after the signing of the Prespa Agreement, which showed EU that any open issue can be resolved if there’s good will. He underlined the importance of the country’s accession to NATO and the impact it will have both on national and European security.
Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov hopes that North Macedonia will get a date to start accession talks during Finland’s EU Presidency.
“The decision will be a shared success and an encouragement to continue on the path we’re on, that is, turn North Macedonia into a modern democratic country,” Dimitrov said.
He added that he and Haavisto discussed the positions of different member states. Dimitrov talked about the steps taken towards European integration and improving good-neighborly relations, as well as the impact a positive decision will have on the country, the region and the European Union.
In regards to what getting a start date for accession talks will mean for the people, Dimitrov noted that things won’t change overnight, but once the process is underway we’ll have greater support and funds to provide people a European standard of living.
“Negotiations will be organized in multiple stages and focus on progress and economic growth. If we successfully complete the process, young people will no longer need to seek better living conditions in Germany, they will have the same opportunities here. The process will allow for deeper monitoring of all areas of the administration and justice system, and supply the financial support needed to improve the country” Dimitrov said.
He and Haavisto also discussed opportunities for twinning projects in the field of environment and greater cooperation in education, an area where we can learn a lot from Finland.
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev also met with Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto.
“Today’s meeting is historic because it takes place during Finland’s Presidency of the EU Council, and the Republic of North Macedonia expects the EU Council to give strong and clear positive decision for start of EU accession negotiations. We have made important reforms through consensus with the opposition, we have resolved bilateral issues with our neighbours through a rare example of agreement and we are firmly committed to respecting European values. We have contributed to development of the regional cooperation, which resulted in development of trade, economic growth, new investments, new jobs, higher wages. We have delivered results and we think that we deserve EU to give us positive decision which would be a motivation to continue with domestic reforms and it will be a good message for European integration prospects of the region,” Zaev said.