Present at the strategic forum in Slovenia, the Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, stressed that the EU is their only path, but added that the Union should take the next step in opening negotiations after 16 years of waiting as a candidate country. For Zaev, the next step from the EU must be done in order for the country to remain motivated and 'know that one day we will be part of the family'.
"We are in the heart of the EU, surrounded by EU countries. A small country, very good, ethnic and religious, with an extraordinary success of the organization. We have carried out many reforms in our country, we have become a member of NATO and these achievements means the economy, ie investments that directly affect a better GDP, better wages and these lead to our ultimate goal of keeping young people in our country and not leaving them.It is not easy to be a candidate for 16 and a half years. North Macedonia is the country that has been waiting the longest for the next step to be taken since 2000. We signed the Stabilization and Association Agreement 20 years ago, before Croatia, while Croatia celebrated 15th anniversary of EU membership. We have received positive recommendations, consensus from European Council countries, but negotiations have not been opened yet for us. There is no alternative other than that of the EU, we are like the individual who will become part of the family, but this family does not accept us, we are not ready, but we have no other family, we have chosen it because of our values, European values and we will continue on this journey. We have launched other regional initiatives such as the Open Balkans to use this time to improve the quality of life for our citizens, hoping that the EU will have enough courage to take the next step, but must be taken to maintain our motivation and "we know that one day we will be part of this family," said Zaev.