We were witnesses to an intensive and dynamic period with a plethora of occurrences in the domain of foreign policy on all levels, from global and European, to regional occurrences, and especially occurrences domestically, which left no one indifferent. Still, these were historical decisions that provided a certain insight into directions where our foreign policy is heading, but also directions where the state and society in total are heading, said North Macedonia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Bujar Osmani, at the press conference on the occassion of his two-year anniversary in office.
Osmani gave an overview of the 5 priorities during his mandate as the head of the country’s foreign policy – good neighborly relations, the European Union (EU), the partnership with the USA, multilateral proactivity, and economic diplomacy.
Osmani stressed that the relations with Bulgaria posed the biggest challenge during his mandate and that during the past two years, through numerous activities and negotiations, North Macedonia has managed to achieve several key results that are specially important for maintaining the relations with the Republic of Bulgaria.
He stressed that Bulgaria has annulled the “notorious” framework position regarding North Macedonia’s European perspectives and it was soon followed by annulling the Declaration issued by the Bulgarian Parliament that served as a foundation for Bulgaria’s veto on Macedonia.
“We arrived at a situation where the Government of the Republic of Bulgaria annulled the notorious framework position regarding North Macedonia’s European perspectives, which was notorious not because of the tone and the defamatory language about matters that were important to us, but it had certain goals i.e. certain intentions during that process. One of the goals was the exclusion of the Macedonian language from the negotiation framework in any kind of situation and context and secondly, a 35th chapter to be introduced with historical issues as determiners for opening and closing the chapters i.e. the progress during the accession process,” said Osmani.
He also said that after two and a half years of blockade, a second Intergovernmental session with Bulgaria took place, an obligation that has resulted from the Good – Neighborly Agreement with Bulgaria and the minutiae of the session was signed, popularly known as the Protocol, which then gave way for the “French proposal.” Regarding this proposal, Osmani said that it represented an upgrade of previous attempts by three previous presidencies, including the one by the European Commission.
“What I’m convinced about is that we have made a good and a strategic decision that time will tell was right, and that in the last minute we succeeded to save the country from the Balkan whirlpool and launching it on its irrevocable trajectory toward Europeization, stabilization and raising people’s standards,” said Osmani.
Osmani stressed that the country has managed to achieve a negotiation framework that was adopted by the 27 EU member countries, including Bulgaria, where the Macedonian language is present without any additions, qualifications, and footnotes, and that finally closed the issue of the Macedonian language’s international standing in the manner the people preferred.
Regarding the EU accession process, Osmani said that a clean process has been achieved by avoiding the inclusion of historical issues as accession determinations, considering the Bulgarian requests to include them as determinants.
Osmani also discussed the relations with other neighbors and stressed that the great relations with Greece were deepened and intensified, while the historical issue with the Church was solved with Serbia. Osmani said that we started the negotiations together with Albania while with Kosovo, we had a joint intergovernmental session and we signed over 40 bilateral agreements.
A crowning achievement of our multilateral proactivity is our OSCE presidency, the biggest regional safety organization, said Osmani.
Regarding economic diplomacy, Osmani said that MFA’s focus was to attract foreign investments, find new markets for our producers, and also to attract tourists.