Tuesday, 11 December 2018 | News today: 15

Von der Leyen: I know the referendum is related with the name of your country, identity and history, seize this unique opportunity

We want to build Europe together with you. I am convinced that the referendum will be successful and at the end you will move on the right path, German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said Thursday at the joint press conference with her Macedonian colleague Radmila Sekerinska.

“The referendum is approaching. I know that it is related with the name of your country, your identity and history, however I see great chance in this referendum. I believe that the citizens of your country will actively participate. From our experience related to German unification I can say that such opportunities are unique and should be seized. And when I speak about seizing the opportunity, I want to say that I am speaking about united Europe, that we want to continue to build Europe together with you,” Von der Leyen said.

Sekerinska answering journalist question if the referendum fails and whether Macedonia will stay in front of NATO’s door, she expressed confidence that the referendum will be successful and that the country is already preparing for accession talks with NATO.

“From the moment we received NATO invitation we set up teams for preparation of accession talks. NATO teams have already visited the country and meetings with NATO officials in Brussels are to be held at the end of this month. The talks are being led as planned. We do not expect any issues that will slow down the process. We should prove politically that we fully support this process and we will do that on September 30. I think that the successful referendum will definitely speed up all of our allies to help make the accession dialogue fast, efficient and quality,” Sekerinska said.

In regard to bilateral cooperation, Von der Leyen said that she wants to jointly move on the road to NATO membership.

“We will continue the bilateral cooperation with regard to joint exercises that can be carried out in cooperation between the two countries. We offer an opportunity to deepen the cooperation in the area of training for further qualification, but of course also on a funding plan. When we talk about NATO, I can say that we share very similar views and I have the feeling that you are part of NATO. I am convinced that the referendum will be successful, that everything will be as it should and that in the end you will move on the right track,” Von der Leyen underlined.

Von der Leyen and Sekerinska will take part Thursday at panel discussion “The Role of the Civil Society in the NATO and EU Integration Processes” organised by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.