Friday, 22 June 2018 | News today: 18

Speaking at Polish economic forum, President Ivanov urges for EU integration of the Balkans

Speaking at Polish economic forum, President Ivanov urges for EU integration of the Balkans

President Gjorge Ivanov said that Europe needs to understand that it must integrate the Balkans and that only as a united continent can Europe advance in the 21st century. Ivanov spoke at the resort town of Krynica-Zdroj in Poland, where he attends the 27th Economic Forum. President Ivanov met with Polish President Andrzej Duda and also spoke at a joint panel with Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili.

“Integration in the European Union and NATO remains the basic foreign policy priority of the Republic of Macedonia. Opening the EU accession talks will give a strong impetus to further transformation of the Macedonian society and will be the best answer to the challenges our country faces. As a responsible member of the international community and a candidate country to join NATO, the Republic of Macedonia already acts as a de-facto member of NATO, giving its active contribution to peacekeeping missions. Macedonia’s membership in NATO was earned long ago”, President Ivanov said during the meeting with President Duda.

President Duda, according to the press release, said that Poland will always support Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations. During the panel discussion, Duda said that Poland will be an advocate for EU candidate countries and that it would be a major mistake if EU doors are closed for new members. Ivanov said that Macedonia exceptionally highly values the support of the Visegrad group of countries, given through the institutions of the European Union. Ivanov also expressed his gratitude to Poland for its support in managing the migrant and refugee crisis as well as the help given following the 2016 flash flood near Skopje. The two Presidents discussed intensifying bilateral ties, including with official visits and business forums and President Ivanov urged Poland to act in order to help unblock Macedonia’s EU and NATO integration.

Speaking at the panel, President Ivanov said that Macedonia is the only EU candidate country that has been pressured to implement additional conditions of membership, such as changing its own name. “We are being denied the right to human dignity and of self-identification. We are denied the right to use the name which we have chosen. That is a bilateral issue, but the problems is that the EU allows a member country to abuse it, to block our prosperity and the prosperity of the entire region”, said President Ivanov, who added that, despite all the developments in the EU, the majority of Macedonians want to join the Union. Ivanov said that the European Union, unfortunately, is still not Europe, and can only speak on behalf of the entire continent once it has integrated all the countries in the Balkans.

President Ivanov also discussed the migrant crisis, the brunt of which was born by Macedonia, and emphasized the support of countries such as Poland and Visegrad members to end illegal migration.

“We showed that Macedonia, although a small country, can be of interest to the European Union. In 2015, when the EU was unprepared for the wave of migrants, Macedonia did not wait for orders from Brussels, but made its own decisions and implemented them. Macedonia was, at the time, perhaps the most sovereign country in the continent, because we decided to, at first, regulate the flow of migrants, to separate economic migrants from legitimate refugees and to divide the humanitarian aspect of the crisis from the actions of economic migrants to used the wave of refugees to find a better life for themselves in the EU”, said Ivanov. He addressed the rising Islamophobia in Europe saying that Macedonia has a six centuries long experience of co-existence with Islam, and knows about the need to show patience, to hear out and integrate all others, to respect differences and to push for inclusion and not for exclusion.