After meeting with North Macedonia's Prime Minister Zoran Zaev in Ljubljana on Tuesday, his Slovenian counterpart Marjan Sarec said that his country advocates that during the next EU summit in June, a date is set for North Macedonia to open negotiations for membership in the European Union.
Zaev is on an official two-day visit to Slovenia and after meeting with Sarec, the two prime ministers addressed a press conference. Sarec said that the EU should set a date in June for North Macedonia to launch EU accession negotiations and in that way recognise the progress that the country has made so far.
"North Macedonia is a friendly and partner country to us and recently it has made a lot of progress," Sarec said.
He underscored that North Macedonia had resolved problems with neighbouring countries, particularly with Greece over its name, removing the obstacle to its membership in NATO and the EU. Sarec said that Slovenia supports the integration of the Western Balkans into the European family and said that Slovenia is a strong advocate for negotiations to be launched with North Macedonia as soon as possible.
Thanking Sarec and Slovenia for its support, Zaev said that after 14 years of being a candidate for membership, the time has come for negotiations to be launched with his country, that he is aware that that process will last for years, but negotiations are an important opportunity that will enable progress for Macedonian society.
In a talk at the Institute for Balkan and Middle East Studies in Ljubljana, Zaev said that all political parties in North Macedonia and more than 75% of the population support the country's EU membership, that they expected, now that the European Parliament elections are over, to see how the future European Commission will act and whether it will include the Western Balkans on the enlargement agenda. He added that his country hopes to become the 30th member of NATO by the end of the year.
The two prime ministers said they hoped the presidents of Serbia and Kosovo, Aleksandar Vucic and Hashim Thaci respectively, will continue the dialogue on normalising relations and stabilising the wider region.