Ambassador Geer: Rule of law starting point and final step in EU negotiations

The rule of law will be central in the EU accession talks. It is the starting point, but also the final step in the negotiations, new EU Ambassador David Geer said presenting his letters of credence to President Stevo Pendarovski.

“Last March the Council of the European Union took the historic decision to open membership negotiations with North Macedonia. This came following significant reform achievements, hard decisions that confirmed this country’s chosen direction. Now we can all look ahead to the formal start of negotiations at the Intergovernmental Conference,” stated Geer.

The accession talks, he added, will be demanding and rewarding in equal measure.

“The process is also about upholding democracy and dialogue, protecting human rights and the environment and forging a sustainable economy at the service of citizens. EU reforms and improving the lives and prospects of people are not competing priorities, but rather mutually reinforcing efforts. They involve a process of positive reform in the interests of the freedoms, prosperity and security of ordinary Macedonians,” Geer said.

The diplomat said he looked forward to working with the President, with Parliament, with government, and with the opposition. “I look forward to working all actors and sectors of society across the country that must be at the centre of this great endeavour to see North Macedonia take its place as a member of the European Union.”

Speaking at the ceremony, President Pendarovski said the new EU Ambassador was taking up his post at a crucial time for the country.

“After signing the Prespa Agreement with Greece and the Friendship Treaty with Bulgaria, we turned a new page in our development and decided to make up for the time lost,” he said.

In the coming period, the President said, it is expected the decision on the opening of negotiations to be translated into the Council of the EU adopting the negotiating framework and scheduling the first Intergovernmental Conference between the EU and North Macedonia.

Pendarovski said he was confident that the opening of negotiations and the revised methodology would not only play a role to further advance stability in the Western Balkans, but also would allow the country to more efficiently implemented much-needed reforms in the fight against corruption and high corruption.

“Establishment of a functioning legal state with an independent and efficient judicial system at its core is one of our strategic priorities,” he noted, also thanking for the EU support during the COVID-19 crisis.

Ambassador Geer’s term as Head of the EU Delegation to North Macedonia is four years. He succeeds Ambassador Samuel Žbogar, who took office in 2016.