Thimonier: The Prespa Agreement isn’t the sole precondition for starting accession talks

French Ambassador Christian Thimonier said that he has informed French top officials of North Macedonia’s disappointment following the EU Council meeting in Brussels.

Thimonier added that geopolitics surpassed realistic expectations, giving the public “the impression that the Prespa Agreement is the sole precondition for starting accession talks.”

The French ambassador said the Bundestag wasn’t ready to make a decision in June, elections were being held in the EU and over the summer “an idea arose mysteriously that the decision will compensate for the Prespa Agreement.”

“A strange shift in perspective occurred. As an observer I often wondered how we managed to get from an objective evaluation of the agenda to debating the rewards for reaching an agreement, from discussing fundamental aspects to dealing with geopolitical issues. That was never the French perspective. Geostrategic aspects are important, but this strange shift in perspective was more akin to political marketing than diplomatic discussion,” Thimonier said.

He added that the situation in North Macedonia has been closely observed and French authorities are aware of the public disappointment in the country. Thimonier said certain parties made promises they left to others to see through. He added that everyone should take responsibility for the situation, not just France.

Thimonier said that public expectations to get a date posed an added pressure for member states to make a positive decision.

In answer to a reporter’s question on why France was the only country to disregard the implemented reforms, Thimonier said that with the Zagreb Summit approaching nothing is set in stone, and that president Macron had acknowledged reforms, but called for new enlargement methodology to prepare EU member states for the process.

“Member states support France on this issue, and I hope it will be resolved quickly,” said Thimonier.

The ambassador added that Macron underlined that things weren’t as clear as they had been made out to be, and EU leaders had an in-depth discussion on the topic.

“Discussion was tense, there were different positions on North Macedonia and Albania and whether their accession should be discussed separately. Member states rejected one French-German suggestion for being too minimalist. I regret that this suggestion was unsatisfactory, and forced to postpone reaching a decision at the Zagreb Summit,” Thimonier said.