President Pahor at the Prespa Forum: “During its presidency, Slovenia will work sincerely to resolve the Bulgarian blockade on North Macedonia”
Ohrid, 2. 7. 2021 | press release
President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, attended the Prespa Forum Dialogue taking place in Ohrid, North Macedonia.
The Prespa Forum is held under the auspices of the President of the Republic of North Macedonia, Stevo Pendarovski, who invited President Pahor as a special speaker. This marks the start of Slovenian President Borut Pahor’s international activities as the president of the state that took up the Presidency of the Council of the EU yesterday. During its presidency, Slovenia wants to achieve a breakthrough and start EU negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia and to accelerate EU enlargement into the Western Balkans.
The President participated in a discussion entitled Western Balkans: the Missing Puzzle for Completing Europe. The President emphasised the importance of the enlargement of the European Union and the further enlargement of NATO, which is crucial to the stability and prosperity of the neighbouring region of the Western Balkans. He pointed out that EU enlargement to the Western Balkan countries was a primary geopolitical issue and that the region should be seen as a whole.
In Mr Pahor’s opinion, it would be best for the EU to adapt its enlargement strategy to this issue and that the EU's absorption capacity was sufficient even in the event of rapid enlargement. Another increasingly important factor for enlargement is time, as a slow enlargement process is undermining confidence in Europe's future. At the same time, a faster EU enlargement to the Western Balkans would be a rebuttal to dangerous ideas about changing borders, which certainly could not happen peacefully, so the President of Slovenia “completely rejects” such ideas.
The President added that the rapid integration of the Western Balkan countries into the EU would significantly strengthen the territorial integrity of these countries and the security of the region and Europe as a whole. “Without the Western Balkans, the European Union remains an unfinished peace project,” said Mr Pahor, recalling that in mid-May he hosted a summit of the Brdo-Brijuni Process initiative leaders and although the session was very difficult, it ended in a general agreement on the main goals.
The President went on to emphasise the importance of partnership with the United States and said that the transatlantic alliance had a good understanding of the geopolitics of the Western Balkans. He pointed out the importance of NATO membership for Montenegro, Albania and North Macedonia.
President Pahor concluded by saying that, in his opinion, the delay in negotiations with North Macedonia was unreasonable; what is more, it is politically wrong, undermining the EU's authority. He said that although he could not speak on behalf of the Government, Slovenia would work to achieve a breakthrough in the start of EU negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia and to accelerate the enlargement of the EU to the Western Balkans.
The President of Slovenia also announced that he would attend the summit of the Three Seas Initiative in the following week and hold a bilateral meeting with the President of Bulgaria, Rumen Radev.
After the panel discussion of leaders, President Pahor had a bilateral meeting with the host, the President of the Republic of North Macedonia, Stevo Pendarovski.