President of North Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski stated on Jan. 12 that, due to Russia’s aggression on Ukraine, the stability of the Western Balkans is once again, after more than 20 years, the priority of the international community, and not the region’s integration.
During the round table discussion on the topic “Western Balkans between the West and the East: North Macedonia – EU Member by 2030?” organized by the Council of Ambassadors in Skopje, Pendarovski stated that, previously, the stability of Western Balkans was the priority at the time of signing of the Kumanovo Agreement (1999) and of the Ohrid Agreement (2001), stated the president’s office.
“After the start of the war in Ukraine on Feb. 24, Europe is once again in the focus of U.S. foreign policy and, consequently, the Western Balkans as its segment. Experts, politicians and diplomats have assessed that, if Russia is attempting to draw the attention of the entire western alliance, which is helping Ukraine be liberated, it will do that more easily in the Balkans than in the Baltic,” Pendarovski said.
Commenting on regional initiatives, primarily the Open Balkan and the Berlin Process, the president of North Macedonia urged Brussels to “prioritize between these two things.” Regarding the subject of the round table discussion, Pendarovski said that North Macedonia’s membership in the EU by 2030 was possible, providing that a national consensus is reached and sustained, and that Brussels keeps its attention on the region.