If the European Union does not set a date for accession talks in June, it will happen in July or October, said Matthew Palmer, US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasia in an interview with VOA.

I know that there are certain problems related to the decision-making time in the Bundestag. I do not know if the focus will be to make a decision in June or potentially in July, depending on the internal procedures of the Bundestag. However, the United States hopes and supports the European Council to open accession negotiations, he said.

Palmer says the implementation of the Prespa Agreement is the biggest diplomatic achievement for the Western Balkans after the Dayton Agreement and will depend directly on joining the EU.

We believe that the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia is committed to continuing the progress in fulfilling the reforms. When and if the European Council agrees to start the negotiations, we are convinced that Skopje will continue these efforts, since the accession process itself will provide the possibility for further reforms, he said.

However, despite significant progress, Palmer emphasized that the state has much to do with implementing the reforms.

The main challenge, not only in North Macedonia but also in the whole region, is the rule of law. Rule of law is the mother of all reforms, in the context of European integration and the creation of a climate for peace, prosperity and stability, Palmer said.

According to him, NATO membership will not completely reduce Russian influence in the region, but will strengthen the country’s resistance to Russian aggression.

I think that for a long time the Russians show a commitment in an aggressive disinformation campaign across the region. There are still many aggressive efforts in Montenegro, even though it is a NATO member, Palmer said.

He expects the US Senate to ratify the NATO Accession Protocol as soon as possible.

I encourage people to take into account the big picture, which is that the NATO process is moving forward, much faster than expected, and if the EU does not set a date for negotiations in June, it will happen in July or October. I firmly encourage the political class and the citizens of North Macedonia to remain united in this process, remain committed, and have the faith that we are all committed to the integration of North Macedonia into the EU, he said.