President Stevo Pendarovski said that he received no guarantees from French President Emmanuel Macron that Macedonia will be allowed to open EU accession talks soon. Pendarovski met with Macron at the Peace Forum in Paris, after the French President vetoed Macedonia and Albania at the October European Council.

Pendarovski said that Macron heard out his arguments and explained his proposal to reform the accession talks.

President Macron has already begun to clarify the new methodology for accession talks. They submitted a non paper to the EU member states a week ago and expect to receive their feedback and potential amendments in the next month or two. In principle he thinks that the new methodology can be adopted by March. He said a decision could be reached at the Zagreb summit in May, but there is no guarantee that this decision will be positive, Pendarovski said following his meeting with Macron.

Pendarovski and Prime Minister Zoran Zaev were thoroughly humiliated with the failure to secure the opening of accession talks, even after they imposed a name change on Macedonia. The EU’s decision pushed Zaev to call for early general elections in April 2020. After the veto President Macron asssured Macedonia that the issue is now with the EU, and his need to push toward reforms that would deepen the union before new enlargement can be allowed. Pendarovski pushed his and Zaev’s idea that the deepening of the EU can go in parallel with its broadening.

All options are open. Macron resolutely said that the postponement is because the EU needs more time. He said that “my old commitment is to deepen the EU and alter the methodology”, and that he knows the two processes can go hand in hand, especially as Macedonia only wants to begin the process at this point, Pendarovski quoted Macron’s response. He added that President Macron at no point demanded additional reforms from Macedonia such as adopting the law on state prosecutors.

Pendarovski also appeared to pour cold water on the Mini Schengen initiative presented by Zaev over the weekend in Ohrid, and said that during his meeting with President Macron, he insisted that there should be no alternative models for the Balkans other than full EU membership.
The Macedonian President went on to describe the meeting in detail. In a weird new development, Pendarovski said that he Macron that Macedonia would also be open to a model under which it could be expelled from the EU after joining it.

Let them alter the accession model any way they like. We support the principle of reversibility. At one point I even told him that as a full member they can freely expel us from the EU, it is not in our interest to remain there if we are not a democracy, Pendarovski told the press.