The SDSM party held a rally in Skopje as part of its campaign for the local elections in October. Zoran Zaev addressed hundreds of party officials and supporters a day after his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, eager to capitalize on a rare series of international meetings he had in the past days.

I bring greetings from Paris, from all the capitals of Europe, who give strong support to our fatherland. Skopje is proud and respected when Macedonia is proud and respected, Zaev declared.

A number of European leaders came out in support of opening EU accession talks with Macedonia, but the expected reward is far from certain, as Bulgaria continues to block this decision. Zaev’s electoral fortunes in October depend in large part on whether he will be able to deliver on this issue, or if he will suffer another foreign policy humiliation, similar to those Macron’s veto in 2019 and the Bulgarian veto in 2020.

We did our tasks, we fulfilled all the criteria, and now it is proper for the EU to deliver. We are ready for a bilateral dialogue (with Bulgaria) which will bring about a reasonable and mutually acceptable agreement within the framework of the 2017 Friendship Treaty. Of course, the issues of the Macedonian language and identity are not and can’t be on the table, on any table, Zaev insisted.