The President of the European Council Charles Michel’s speech delivered at the Bled Strategic Forum is a pivotal moment for the EU’s enlargement as it included the first official time frame given for the next enlargement, Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Bojan Marichikj told MIA.

Macedonia should take this opportunity instead of blocking itself, Marichikj said.

“This is a very important signal from the EU that we need to use. All our efforts we are making now, this year, all the efforts we are told that are rushed, are justified [because] we want to catch the train, seize the opportunity being given to us,” he said.

The Bled Strategic Forum signaled that things in the EU were changing for the better; the sooner the country completed its obligations, he added, the sooner it would find itself in the group of next EU members.

Regarding the EC’s President’s proposal to introduce a “confidence clause,” the chief negotiator with the EU said this would instill confidence and hope in candidate countries.

“Vetoes have created great unrest in the region, great unrest in the EU, and threatened the EU’s credibility,” Marichikj said.

“This [confidence clause] would ensure that there is no possibility for any country accessing the EU to block its neighbor, helping the process unfold unambiguously and without obstacles.

Marichikj added that Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic had said it was crucial that bilateral issues were eliminated from the negotiations so the process would gain credibility.

What the country should focus on, according to the Europe minister, are reforms. He said EU accession required both transformation on the part of candidate countries and adaptation to accepting new members on the part of the EU.

“Charles Michel’s message, as I understand it, is that those processes should run in parallel so as not to waste time,” Marichikj said, adding the processes should converge in 2030.

“By then the EU member states should be ready to accept new members into their club and the candidate countries, having implemented EU rules, should be ready to become members that will contribute to the EU’s development,” he added.

Waiting, according to Marichikj, is a poor strategy.

“Waiting is just a strategy that will empty the country of young people and kill hope for the EU,” he said.