Petkov: Macedonia has a historic chance to open EU accession talks this year

Bulgaria supports efforts of the PM Zaev’s government, the institutions, the civil society sector and the media for Macedonia to return on the path to Euro-Atlantic integration, Bulgarian Ambassador to Macedonia Ivan Velikov Petkov said Thursday’s presenting priorities of the Bulgarian EU Council presidency.

“Yesterday we heard an encouraging message in Davos at the meeting between Prime Minister Zoran Zaev with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, which raised hopes for resolving the name dispute,” Petkov said.

According to Petkov, Macedonia has a historic chance to open EU accession talks this year.

“The Western Balkans is a central priority of Bulgaria’s foreign policy and key priority in Bulgarian EU Council presidency. We are convinced that EU should affirm European perspective of all Balkan countries and to encourage them for pro-European reforms,” he pointed out.

However, he underlined, it is necessary to recognise the EU enlargement fatigue both in the EU member state but also in the aspirant countries.

“We are convinced that we will be working with the Western Balkans because it belongs to the EU. Otherwise we risk facing instability. On the other hand, the EU should encourage political dialogue, work with governments to create jobs, infrastructure linking between countries, stimulating reforms and reconciliation,” Petkov underlined.

He also said that Western Balkans needs clear European perspective and ambitions of the Bulgarian EU Council presidency and the ambition of the Bulgarian presidency is to have a clear action plan without creating unrealistic expectations but concrete steps.

Bulgaria’s EU presidency has four key priorities – future of the EU with the focus on economic growth, focus on the Western Balkans, safety and security and digital economy.