United States Ambassador Angela Aggeler said Thursday that Macedonia’s EU membership would help the country better manage domestic challenges, corruption being one. The Ambassador urged country leaders to find a way to put the country on the right track, while telling the ruling and opposition parties to put aside partisan policies and consider the people’s well-being.

“Macedonia’s leadership must find a way to take the right path prior to the formal EU membership. The United States will support you, we will continue to invest in you but we cannot do this for you. Political will is needed to take the next step that will lead your country to a brighter future. Government and opposition in every country must work together on certain important decisions, putting aside politics and do what is best for the people. Your citizens lie in the core of the difficult decisions, be it NATO, EU, relations with US, domestic reforms,” Ambassador Aggeler told a conference on US-Macedonia relations in era of geopolitical turmoil, organized by the Presidential Center for Political Education.

The Ambassador noted that turbulence that has recently taken place globally has shown that isolation cannot be the way forward, noting the benefits that Macedonia would have from joining the EU and highlighting that Macedonian language, culture and identity will be preserved.

“You will keep your language, you will keep your culture, you will keep your identity, this is your legacy, it is what makes you a country. At the same time, you will gain a lot. EU accession will ensure that Macedonia better copes with domestic challenges, one of which is youth emigration. Membership can help prevent this trend but also bring economic opportunities and creation of new jobs, as well as education possibilities,” said Aggeler and added that joining the Union would also help put an end to corruption and crisis in the judiciary, implementation of reforms and meeting standards.

She said EU membership should be seen through the same prism as NATO accession.

“EU is next. When domestic challenges are dominating the headlines, one can easily lose sight of the bigger picture, which is for the country to be part of the largest global economic bloc,” said Aggeler.

The ambassador also referred to US-North Macedonia relations, noting that the bilateral partnership is so strong that it can weather any storm.

“For the United States, Macedonia has always been a pillar of stability in the Balkans. As we say in the US, ‘it’s not the size of the dog in fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog’. In only three years as NATO member, Macedonia has demonstrated its strength and worth as a global security partner. In only three years, your country has stepped forward to firmly stand on the right side of history, first with the Afghanistan crisis and now with Russia’s unprovoked, ruthless and brutal invasion of Ukraine. Do not underestimate the significance of what your country has done and do not underestimate the significance of what it means to be part of an alliance such as NATO,” said Aggeler.

She reiterated what U.S. Senator Chris Murphy said during his recent visit, that North Macedonia is undoubtedly safer because of the security guarantees from the United States and other international partners, and because it is a NATO member.

“I hope this not only helps you sleep better at night but also serves as a guiding light of your future policies,” said Aggeler and added that the country made an enormous sacrifice in order to join NATO.