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Zaev in EP address: Belief in European future is the motive for agreements with Greece and Bulgaria

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev addressed Thursday the European Parliament at the invitation of EP President Antonio Tajani.

He explained the importance of the Prespa Agreement and thanked Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras.

According to him, the September 30 referendum is a vote for the country’s second independence.

“For the Republic of Macedonia, this is an opportunity that we have waited for a long time. In 1991 we voted for independence at a referendum. Now, we must make the next step: create a real opportunity to become NATO’s 30th member and launch the EU accession negotiations, chapter by chapter. The September 30 vote is much more than a referendum on the Prespa Agreement. It is one for the future, for our second independence,” stressed PM Zaev.

Similar to PM Tsipras a couple of days ago, he noted that the name issue settlement can serve as model for solution of other bilateral disputes.

“We want to serve as an example and inspiration for settlement of all bilateral issues in the Western Balkans, giving strong support to sustainable solutions based on European values and international law, permanently stabilizing the region and preparing it for EU integration,” stressed Zaev.

He elaborated on the reasons why “there is no strong EU without a successful Balkans”.

“A successful Balkans is one integrated in the EU. This vision has motivated us to make the historic step and stimulate processes of reconciliation, building unity and alliances in the region,” said Zaev.

He referred to the region’s importance in the migrant crisis management, saying investment in the Balkans is an investment for a stable, strong and united Europe.

The PM assured MEPs that Macedonia is doing everything to achieve European Union standards.

“We are aware of the recommendations, they are our priorities: independent and democratic institutions, rule of law and fight against corruption, professional public administration in service of citizens,” added Zaev.

He said Macedonia is a successful European story, an authentic model of functional multiethnic democracy.

“The country is living the European slogan ‘United in Diversities’ on a daily basis,” noted Zaev.

He drew a parallel between the crisis within the European Union and the political crisis that Macedonia has gone through, saying it is a struggle of open society against authoritarian nationalism.

“The political crisis we have gone through was in fact one for values, similar to that in European and global terms – struggle for liberal values of rule of law, human rights and liberties, democratic governance, open economy, against authoritarian nationalism,” said Zaev.

He said that young people in Macedonia dream of being a part of the European family.

“Yes, our people want to be part of this family. We feel as Europeans. Back in 1991, I was 17 and dreaming of being part of the European family. Young people in the country still have this dream. Now, 27 years later, as PM, on behalf of the citizens of my country, I speak in the European Parliament in my Macedonian language,” concluded Zaev.