North Macedonia will not withdraw from Open Balkan Initiative despite Serbia’s position on Russia


The Government of North Macedonia will not withdraw from the “Open Balkan Initiative” regardless of Serbia’s refusal to impose sanctions on Russia, as the West, but also Albania and North Macedonia did, due to the aggression on Ukraine. According to the Government fo North Macedonia, Serbia’s position regarding the situation in Ukraine is its inner affair, writes Portalb.mk.

“Notwithstanding what Serbia’s or any other country’s stance regarding the aggression on Ukraine will be, it is just its own affair! With Serbia we have excellent friendly relations between both countries and nations and we came to a conclusion that in the last two years the cooperation has been intensified, especially economy-wise,” said the Government of North Macedonia for Portalb.mk.

According to them, “Open Balkan” is contributing to the regional cooperation between the countries by implementing European values.

Serbia, unlike most European countries, refused to impose sanctions on Russia because of the unprovoked occupation of Ukraine.

Even Albania has no intention to leave the Open Balkan Initiative because of Serbia’s relations with Russia.

“We didn’t lack information about Serbia’s foreign policies when we started this process. We didn’t wait for Ukraine to be attacked to get to know the relations between Serbia and Russia. Regarding the progress of the Open Balkan Initiative, this is an issue that is waiting and there is no need of drawing conclusions not just about Serbia, but also about the ways this process has been unfolding,” said Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, on the 25th of February.

He said that the Open Balkan isn’t a project for creating an organization like a minor EU or a new Yugoslavia.

“We didn’t join Open Balkan to make Serbia be an ally of the US. We have no intention of changing our relations with Moscow. We aren’t part of those processes. We didn’t even think about that,” said Rama.

Previously, in September last year, during the period when Zoran Zaev was the prime minister, North Macedonia also refused to withdraw from the Open Balkan Initiative because of the incidents in the north of Kosovo, where the Serbs had blocked blocked the border crossing Jarinje and Brnjak for 8 days. This was a protest to the decision by the Kosovar government to implement reciprocal measures to the Serbian registration plates. At the time, Zaev said that he supports the dialogue between both countries.

Compared to the events in the north, the situation is much more serious now, as EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Policy and Security Policy, Josep Borell said on the 27th of February that the Ukrainian crisis can spill over to other countries, including the Western Balkans.

The fear of spreading the crisis primarily refers to Bosnia and Hercegovina and Kosovo, two countries that have disputes with Russia’s top ally in the Balkans, Serbia.

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