Tuesday, 28 January 2020, Brussels
Address of the President of the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia at the European Parliament - Western Balkans Speakers’ Summit
Distinguished President of the European Parliament, Mr. Sassoli,
Distinguished President of the Croatian Parliament, Mr. Jandrokovic,
Distinguished Presidents of Parliament of Western Balkans,
Allow me, on behalf of the Members of the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia and on my own behalf to welcome the opening of this Summit, organized at the initiative of the esteemed President Sassoli, whom I wish to thank wholeheartedly and whose host I was honoured to be in our legislative a month and a half ago during his first official visit outside the European Union after taking up this responsible post, and after the disappointing decision of the European Council to not set a date for opening the EU membership negotiations. His words back then were, I quote “…it is not about a standstill, because the European Council did not say “no”, but delayed the decision, that is, instead of a historical mistake, we are talking about a historical standstill, and emphasized that “while one possibility was lost, everything will be done to create a new possibility”. This initiative is laying the foundations for precisely such a possibility, and today it refers particularly to the development of a strategy on the role of Parliaments in advancing the EU reform agenda and delivering on the European aspiration of the people of the region.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I believe that there is no need to elaborate on the disappointment of the citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia because we justifiably expected recognition of the reforms achieved and the serious political decisions that the state made to meet the benchmarks for a positive decision. The clearly declared disappointment of most EU Member States was also evident, as they were convinced that the country was ready to start the accession process. While calling the act of not setting a date for North Macedonia and Albania a strategic mistake that has a unfavourable effect both on the credibility of the European Union (given that integrating countries that have met the necessary preconditions enables the EU to retain its international role and protect its interests) and on the candidate countries - since the integration process actually has the effect of transforming them, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on opening accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, clearly expressing its support.
Two weeks ago, the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Mr. Várhelyi made his first official visit outside the European Union to the Republic of North Macedonia in honour of our commitment, and explained the new methodology for the process, which he would present at the end of the month, with the prospect of creating opportunities for opening accession negotiations before the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Zagreb in May 2020. The commitment and serious approach of all stakeholders to this issue clearly confirms the mutual support, need and clear vision and goal, that is, the integration of the Western Balkans region into the European family for the benefit of the region and the European Union.
It is indisputable that parliaments play a crucial role in strengthening the parliamentary dimension of the enlargement process and parliamentary diplomacy, and the development of parliamentary cultures based on consensus building through a continuous and inclusive dialogue, since only in that way can parliaments be genuine and efficient drivers of reforms. The Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia is fully committed to building a strong, functioning and independent legislature, a representative body of citizens and a holder of legislative power that can perform its function in a quality and continuous manner. In this context, I can confirm that the goals we have set together with the Presidency since the very beginning of the new parliamentary composition, which are financial, administrative and security independence of the legislature, are slowly being accomplished. We have recently adopted the Law on the Assembly with amendments related to the Assembly Staff, and the process of opening a Parliamentary Budget Office is currently under way. We are committed and in this regard the parliamentary support and capacity building programmes, implemented locally and regionally, are of paramount importance. Such is the Jean Monnet Dialogue which is an instrument developed by the European Parliament as a soft power tool in the area of parliamentary mediation and dialogue and is complementary to the overall democracy support approaches in the EU. Two Dialogues have been held so far, and now, on 31 January, the third JMD will be held in the Assembly, to continue the work on the Rules of Procedure and reach a consensus thereto. The commitment of all parties to this process speaks for itself that we all want and contribute to a functioning Assembly, functional institutions and satisfied citizens of a European state with European living standards, conditions and opportunities of our citizens and our youth.
Thank you for your trust and clearly declared support that we are on the right path!
Thank you for your attention!