Outgoing European Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn, who pushed very strongly to support the Zaev Government and impose the name change, was defensive and even emotional at times as he had to deliver the bad news that all the efforts did not result in a decision to open the EU accession talks. At one point he all but apologized to the citizens of the two countries.

It’s not only about enlargement per se, there is a political strategy behind it, it’s about reuniting Europe. “North” Macedonia but also Albania, they have done their homeworks, they have, so to say, partly really painful reforms which probably in most of our countries are not possible. In particular we are talking about the people there, they have their aspirations, wishes, dreams, it’s not about pleasing some politicians. I hope this is not so to say useless, quite the opposite, it will pave the way for a positive solution, Hahn said, before adding “I would like to use the opportunity to excuse myself to the citizens, it was again, not a moment of glory. I have argued and fought in the past to make it possible… They have delivered. Full stop. Now we have to deliver”.

Hahn was pressed by the MIA corresponded if he feels personal responsibility for pushing for coupling the two countries together.

I hope that the leaders are able to see a broader picture and find a solution which is, in a way, addressing the expectations. I don’t quite understand your question concerning my personal responsibility. One is not always 100 percent successful, but I have no problems if others will be successful at this. I have contributed a lot. I understand if people in “North” Macedonia are disappointed, and I think we need to feel the temperature and we should see our responsibility, particularly in those countries which have not today been able to support (enlargement), Hahn replied.