Zaev: France is not against us, I expect a positive decision

North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev remains an optimist that the European Council will reach a positive decision over a date for the start of EU accession negotiations and believes there’ll be a definite answer on October 17 and 18.

“I remain an optimist because we have all the arguments in the world to get a positive decision from the European Council,” Zaev said answering a reporter’s question after Monday’s conference on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. “We’ve been waiting for 15 years, we’ve made bold decisions, reforms, agreements are 100 percent carried out, we really are an example for the whole region.”

“The EU can’t afford to punish the best,” he continued, “because it’s important for the EU, for the region, for motivating leaders who’d need to find solutions and reform their societies. I think we’re moving in the right direction and the decision made by the EU will confirm our expectations.”

Commenting on Sunday’s meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, PM Zaev said he believed there would be a joint conclusion and the long-awaited decision to start EU accession talks would be made.

“The meetings of the General Affairs Council start tomorrow and we’ll have more concrete information, but I believe that definite decisions on North Macedonia will be reached on October 17 and 18,” he added.

Regarding the position of France, Zaev says that Paris is not against North Macedonia, but it has a very legitimate intention to incorporate a new methodology.

“It would mean that negotiating countries need to have sustainable chapters, well-rounded policies, i.e. lasting social transformation. It’s an ongoing debate. The debate can continue and develop methodologically, while we open the chapters and negotiate. This is where I draw my positive expectations from because one can only complement the other and there’s no contradiction,” said PM Zaev.