ZAGREB, March 13, 2018 – Croatia will remain the chief advocate of Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic integration, Croatia’s Foreign and European Affairs Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić said in Skopje on Tuesday after a meeting with her Macedonian counterpart Nikola Dimitrov.
“Croatia has the know-how to help Macedonia” regarding accession to the European Union and NATO, Pejčinović Burić said, recalling that Croatia is the most prominent EU member in Macedonia with regard to the exchange of know-how and underscored that the Croatian embassy is NATO’s contact point in Skopje.
“The process of accession is becoming more and more complex and we were the most recent to join the EU. It is always best to learn from the most recent member because their knowledge is the freshest,” said Pejčinović Burić, who is on a two-day visit to Macedonia. On Tuesday, she met with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and is expected to meet with President Gjorge Ivanov and Parliament Speaker Talat Xhaferi.
She reiterated that the Macedonian government has Croatia’s support in adopting reforms that are the “key to any progress on the Euro-Atlantic integration journey,” and that Croatia remains the main advocate of Macedonia’s accession to those alliances.
“You have direct support and we will advocate that the country’s name issue be resolved as soon as possible so that negotiations on accession to those two alliances can be launched and that Macedonia is included swiftly,” Pejčinović Burić underscored.
“I think Macedonia can do that, that it is ready and that it has all the predispositions so that from the moment that process starts, it can go quickly, and Croatia can help there,” the minister said, adding that once negotiations between Brussels and Skopje commence, Macedonia will be better prepared than other countries that have already started those processes.
Macedonia and Greece have agreed this year to intensify negotiations to resolve the dispute that is preventing Macedonia from joining NATO and the EU. Greece is a member of both alliances and has the right to veto Macedonia’s accession. Greece is opposed to Macedonia’s name, claiming that it could insinuate territorial aspirations toward the northern Greek province of the same name.
Macedonia hopes that the problem can be resolved before an EU meeting in June and a NATO summit in July, and recommends a geographical determinant that will secure a clear difference between the two names.
Pejčinović Burić welcomed efforts by the governments of both countries to resolve this “difficult and complex issue.”