At a meeting Friday with Macedonia's Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres voiced support for Macedonia's reforms, as well as for its efforts to settle the name row with Greece.
'Guterres voiced support for the multi-ethnic aspect of Macedonia's development and the friendship it has been championing across the Balkans. He is aware of the name issue and appeals for its swift settlement, as it has been hindering Macedonia in terms of development, the EU and NATO accession,' Zaev told MIA. He pointed out that UN mediator in name negotiations Matthew Nimetz was also present at the meeting.
Zaev said that there was a great probability for Russia might have some remarks on Macedonia's accession to NATO, but did not expect such moves in regard to the EU membership.
'Macedonia is located on the border with NATO and this respect Moscow might take some actions against NATO's further enlargement. But our friends in Moscow should realize that Macedonia's place is within the EU and NATO, and that we are working to deliver results in order to become full-fledged member of these organizations', Zaev said.
Macedonia's PM, who is taking part this week in the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly in New York, also held talks EU High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn, who said that Brussels 'has already recognized the positive changes in Macedonia since the arrival of the new government and its role in putting an end to the political crisis'.
'Hahn and Mogherini commended the efforts for reforms and establishing friendly relations with neighbors, including Greece. They are familiar with name problem. Their and our great wish is for Macedonia to open the EU accession talks in 2018. They believe that all countries of the region must move forward,' Zaev said.
New Macedonia's government, he said, have been eagerly meeting all of the European Commission criteria, such as the independent judiciary, rule of law, media freedom etc.
'We hope for a breakthrough related to lifting of Greece's blockade and the launch of EU accession talks. I am an optimist in this regard,' Zaev said.