Shekerinska at the ECFR Panel on the Western Balkans in Paris: Macedonia and the EU must not miss the current chance

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, Radmila Shekerinska, is participating in Paris at the annual meeting of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), whose goal is to create guidelines for dealing with the challenges in the European foreign policy.

Minister Shekerinska is the first politician from the Republic of Macedonia, who was invited to be a member of this influential European think-tank organization.

Within the ECFR meeting, a panel discussion was held on the Western Balkans and the EU – “Western Balkans: The EU and the Great Power Competition”, where Shekerinska addressed the situation at home and in the region and the need to integrate Macedonia and the Western Balkans into the EU.

Minister Shekerinska said that France is important for Macedonia and the region now in these moments. “Now is the moment when things have to be done because if it is missed now, it will mean another lost decade, and not only for the region, but for Europe as well”, she said.

Regarding the name issue Shekerinska said that the two Ministers reached a certain framework for compromise and that the Government is firmly determined to not run away from this problem.

“We believed that resolving problems at home and with the neighbours is the shortest way to start negotiations for membership in the European Union and NATO. When we first stopped on the EU track, we heard that the European Commission and the European Union are strict but fair. But what we are seeing today is that the European Commission and the European Union are stern but full of suspicions”, Minister Shekerinska said. “Macedonia cannot miss this opportunity, but I hope that the EU will also not miss this opportunity. The status quo is never an option for the Western Balkans. We will either go forward or run in circles with the same problems”, she added.

The minister said that in the past year the Government has made progress in all three key areas: media freedom, reforms in the intelligence sector and tracking communications, rule of law and tackling corruption. She added that the European Commission noted this progress and saw that there is a political leadership in the country that wants to break with the past.
On the panel devoted to the Western Balkans, in addition to Minister Shekerinska, speeches were also given by Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe at the German Federal Foreign Office, the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, and the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama.

Shekerinska became part of the ECFR in early April this year, following the invitation sent to her by the three-member group of co-chairpersons of the Council’s board, led by former Swedish Prime Minister, Carl Bildt. The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) is one of the most influential European think-tank organizations for promoting a coherent and efficient foreign policy based on European values and is a platform for communication between leaders and exchange of ideas on European politics.

On the meeting in Paris, Minister Shekerinska also met and spoke with influential opinion makers dedicated to Europe and its role in the world.