Dutch Prime Minister Rutte visits Tirana and Skopje: key to resolving issues between Bulgaria and North Macedonia
TIRANA / SKOPJE – Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte yesterday visited Albania and North Macedonia, conveying messages of support for the holding of the first intergovernmental conferences with the two countries and for the resolution of the problems between Bulgaria and the North Macedonia.
In both countries, Rutte met with representatives of civil society in addition to political leaders.
Following his meeting with Prime Minister Edi Rama in Tirana, Rutte said the Bulgarian presidential elections on November 14 will be decisive for Albania and North Macedonia’s path to the EU, Go out reports.
“In order [for Albania] in order to hold its first intergovernmental conference, it is essential that the problems between Bulgaria and North Macedonia be resolved. Hope this will happen. You have done a lot. To be fair, [Albania] has made the right amount of progress, ”said Rutte.
I want to thank the Prime Minister @ediramaal for the warm welcome here in Tirana. I have seen with my own eyes how hard Albania is working to implement the necessary reforms as a candidate country for EU membership. Albania is on the right track. pic.twitter.com/4RPkTIu7mi
– Mark Rutte (@MinPres) November 10, 2021
In Skopje, Rutte met Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and President Stevo Pendarovski, focusing on the European integration of Macedonia.
“The Netherlands was one of the countries that resisted membership talks the longest, but so much progress has been made in the past two years that I personally wanted to convey the message that we were so happy we were At least the EU has decided to start accession negotiations. Of course, unfortunately there is now a problem with Bulgaria that we have to solve, but at least this problem has been solved and we can, in principle, start the accession negotiations ”, said Rutte for Sitel.
He said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the start of membership talks in December.
“I hope that after the Bulgarian elections next Sunday and the fact that my colleagues in the EU completely agree that this bilateral issue between Bulgaria and North Macedonia should not stand in the way of the opening of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. It is really a collective opinion within the European Union, ”said Rutte.
Following the meetings, Rutte wrote on Twitter that there is still work to be done here on the rule of law and modernizing the economy. Nonetheless, the Netherlands believes North Macedonia – like Albania – is ready to start formal EU membership negotiations, he tweeted.