We need the European Union’s clear vision for Western Balkan countries. There is no time for the enlargement process to keep stalling, given Europe’s new geopolitical situation, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said participants in the ‘EU Enlargement in the Transforming Geopolitical Dynamics’ session at the 2023 Prespa Forum Dialogue on Thursday.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine delayed the EU enlargement process. We need to function in such a way that we find the right people, assess the needs to create strategic positions and see how the EU can help the Western Balkans clarify the processes that will bring us closer to the EU, and we need it now,” said Deputy PM for European Affairs Bojan Maricic.

Maricic added that Macedonia was the most pro-European country in the region, but Euro-enthusiasm among citizens has fallen from 80 percent to 65 percent, which has made them think about what could be done to change it.

“This means that we need a clear reform agenda that will attract all political parties to a dialogue and unite around this issue, because this surpasses political interest,” added Maricic.

In terms of the constitutional amendments, the Deputy PM said that every moment is suitable for finding solutions and to have it discussed in Parliament.

“We cannot prolong this issue because we have lost 20 years on the issue with Greece. We don’t have that much time to waste on this one. All of these issues will not be resolved if we postponed them, but will become bigger and bigger,” said Maricic.

Irish Minister of State for European Affairs, Peter Burke, said that by uniting the EU, the states will not dilute their sovereignty but amplify their influence.

“Openness to the EU is the path that the Irish people have traveled, a journey we wish others take today and along with we are determined to help you,” Burke noted.

Serbia’s Minister for European Integration, Tanja Miscevic, said that the tunnel to the EU is too long, and unfortunately we cannot see its end.

“When we try to explain to EU member states that enlargement will improve the issue of reform fatigue in the region that exists in every candidate country in the region, because it is an imminent situation, nobody wanted to listen. Now we have to seize a momentum somebody else created after 20 years, or even 23 years ago for the integration process of all Western Balkans. It is a strange situation,” Miscevic said.

“Of course we are to blame. We are exempt as a society and as institutions, and at the same time there are many internal struggles and problems, but we should not forget that the rule of law is a primary condition for each and every of us is very difficult to deeply establish and root as a strong institution,” Miscevic added