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Poland backs Western Balkans' NATO dreams

PR dla Zagranicy
Victoria Bieniek 12.03.2018 21:40
Poland supports the NATO aspirations of Macedonia and other Western Balkan states, Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said on Monday during an official visit to Skopje.
Jacek Czaputowicz and Nikola Dimitrov. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka.Jacek Czaputowicz and Nikola Dimitrov. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka.

He also said that with Bulgaria's current presidency over the Council of the European Union and Romania's turn at the bloc's helm next year, the time was ripe to discuss expanding the European Union to include the Western Balkan region.

“My visit is an expression of support for the aspirations of Macedonia and Western Balkan countries to join the European Union and the North Atlantic Alliance,” Czaputowicz said.

Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov said he was hopeful that his country would leave the “waiting room” for European Union accession in June when the bloc's members take a decision on whether to launch talks with Skopje.

Macedonia, referred to internationally as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), gained its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.

It has been an official EU candidate since 2005. But accession talks have stalled over a decades-long dispute with Greece over the countries' claims to the name Macedonia. According to Greece, Macedonia is the name of a northern Greek province and therefore the former Yugoslav republic should not have the same name.

In February, Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said his country would be prepared to add an adjective, such as 'upper' or 'northern', to its name in order to end the conflict with Greece, which would improve Skopje's chances at EU and NATO membership.

Czaputowicz said he was hopeful that Greek-Macedonian talks would end successfully.

While in Macedonia, Czaputowicz also inaugurated the seventh Skopje Conference. According to the Polish foreign ministry, “the annual meeting serves as a platform for representatives of state institutions to share Polish pre-accession experiences, and helps to enhance administrative capabilities of Macedonian institutions and their effectiveness at adopting EU standards”.

The Polish and Macedonian foreign ministers also discussed trade between the countries, which Czaputowicz said grew by 75 percent in 2017.

The Polish foreign minister said there was potential for tighter trade partnership, adding that talks were underway to sell to Macedonia Polish-made electric buses, tractors and military equipment.

Czaputowicz also met Zaev for talks about bilateral ties and attended events marking the 75 anniversary of the deportation of Macedonian Jews to an extermination camp located in German-occupied Poland during World War II. (vb)

Source: MSZ, IAR

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