Fighting corruption is crucial for your country’s EU and NATO accession, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev in Ohrid.

As world leader in democracy, the U.S. supports countries that are firmly committed to the rule of law. We welcome the steps your Government has taken to fight corruption and anyone abusing public confidence. Fighting corruption is crucial for your country’s EU and NATO accession, Pompeo said.

He voiced confidence that the US Senate would ratify Macedonia’s accession protocol to the Alliance, and welcomed the agreements with Greece and Bulgaria.

He also referred about fake news, as well as Russian influence.

The hearts and minds of the citizens of North Macedonia must lead your country forward, not Russian bots and trolls on social media, the Secretary of State said.

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev thanked for the US support for NATO membership and said he expects good news from the United States for the accession protocol soon.

He also referred to freedom of the media, and said the government was firmly committed to fighting fake news.

He reiterated that by 2024, the country will allocate 2% of the defense budget, and in his speech he also referred to the economy.

Our focus is on the economy. North Macedonia is a unique country with no open bilateral issues with any neighbor. In ten days we expect the long-awaited news from Brussels, the opening of negotiations. I believe it will have a positive impact on the whole region, said Zaev.