2BS Forum Presidential panel: Presidents of the Republic of North Macedonia and the Republic of Slovenia on the Western Balkans’ and the EU’s future

President of the Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor expressed his disappointment that the enlargement policy was not the top priority of the European Union.

I really regret that Brussels is currently burdened by other issues – starting from the health crisis, Brexit, and others – therefore, the Western Balkan countries’ membership in the Union is not its priority. 

By participating at the 10th 2BS Forum, a jubilee, Pahor said that Brussels made a wise decision to enhance negotiations with the candidate countries from the region straight away.

Of course, all candidate countries must do their job; there are many tasks to fulfill on the agenda, but Brussels should have a more constructive approach. He stated that what happened to the Republic of North Macedonia was somehow discouraging for the Western Balkan countries.

That country fulfilled everything that it was asked for; they did everything that should have been done and the European Union stalled, he said emphasizing that that was the big mistake that would be difficult to correct. My task is to remind my colleagues that this issue should not be overlooked. He said that it would be good for the European Union to see the WB countries as a block and as such, they should join the EU.

President of the Republic of North Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski said that he would not dare to project the future of the Western Balkan countries in the next 10 years, but that he would love to witness a positive scenario that might happen.

That positive scenario would imply the negotiations with North Macedonia be resumed straight away, the negotiations with Montenegro and Serbia accelerated, the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue speeded up with the mediation of Brussels, and finally, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s frozen conflict to be resolved, Pendarovski said.

For everything that the candidate countries should do and everything that is needed to be fulfilled, there must be a will of Brussels, he said, warning that it is very discouraging for the citizens to see a country such as North Macedonia that did everything it had been asked for have its negotiations postponed. We have a problem to explain to the citizens what is going on.

He said that besides the fact that the new methodology envisages that the negotiating countries cannot be blocked out due to bilateral disputes, North Macedonia has been blocked not because of some current issue, but some historical heritage.