Prime Minister Gruevski [translated]: First of all let me express my contentment with the cordial, open, and constructive discussion with U.S. Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland. We jointly concluded that relations between our two countries are excellent, characterized by an open and continued dialogue and cooperation, and are based on the principles of the declaration on Strategic Partnership and Cooperation from 2008.
I reiterated our strong position on the necessity of Macedonia becoming a member of NATO as soon as possible, as well as the need for an urgent start of the talks for membership in the European Union, which the United States has continuously and unequivocally supported.
I noted that the Republic of Macedonia expects a continuation of the strong U.S. support in the direction of acquiring the long-deserved membership in NATO. Reforms that Macedonia has implemented in all social and institutional spheres, as well as the participation of the Army of Macedonia members in several peacekeeping missions, give us the right to insist on urgent overcoming of all impediments to our membership. Bearing in mind that the process of reforms is one that requires continuity and constant dedication, we express our clear and unequivocal determination to continue with reforms in all spheres necessary. In addition, we will work with dedication on an integrated society and a strong inter-ethnic cohesion, and will continue to build cohabitation, strengthening the bridges between communities.
I reiterated our belief that the Republic of Macedonia and Greece bear the obligation to fully and constructively continue the negotiations for overcoming the [name] dispute under the auspices of the UN Secretary General. It is necessary for both countries to approach a resolution of the dispute with good will and aspiration for success, in line with democratic principles and international law, and in the context of the ICJ verdict of 2011, which is extremely relevant in a society where rule of law is one of the cornerstones.
I clearly conveyed our expectations that the United States will continue to contribute and introduce new impulses in finding a principled and acceptable resolution to this imposed and irrational dispute.
In the context of developing bilateral relations, we agreed that economic cooperation can further be strengthened. The several road shows organized in the last years have undoubtedly contributed in this direction.
The Republic of Macedonia sees a friend and a partner in the United States, and we will continue to work on developing and advancing cooperation in all spheres of mutual interest.
Assistant Secretary Nuland: Thank you Mr. Prime Minister. I am delighted to be back in Skopje. As you know, I was a frequent visitor here when I was Ambassador to NATO 2005-2008. This is also the sixth stop on our four-day trip around the Balkans. We had a very frank and open discussion today. I want to thank the Prime Minister for that. It is an absolutely crucial moment as you start your new mandate as Prime Minister, for Macedonia, for the region. The United States very strongly supports the vision that we’ve had since Ohrid, of one country moving forward in prosperity, in democracy, together. I was very pleased to hear from the Prime Minister today his reform plan is going forward. This is absolutely essential, that both communities grow and prosper together. The United States is pleased that we have been able to invest strongly in that integrated vision – politically, economically, in security terms. We talked a little bit about how we can do more together, including in Albanian regions of Macedonia, and we want to do that with our investors, with our companies, and about how we can do more to strengthen regional economic integration across this area, because that is what will bring strength, what will bring prosperity, what will bring growth to both communities.
On the security side, our relationship is very strong. I want to take this moment to offer America’s condolences on the loss of your helicopter pilots. I know today is a day of mourning in Macedonia. I want to thank your military for the very strong and courageous role you play in the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. The Prime Minister confirmed your continued commitment there, together with us. It sends a strong signal that Macedonia today is a security exporter, which is a wonderful thing to see. As the Prime Minister said, the United States has – and I personally have – strongly supported your efforts to try to resolve the name issue through the UN process. I recommitted America’s willingness to stay involved and stay engaged as you work to resolve that issue, so that Macedonia can fully realize all of its Euro-Atlantic aspirations through NATO and through the EU. Thank you again, Prime Minister.
Question: (translated) Mrs. Nuland, is enlargement still a priority for NATO?
Assistant Secretary Nuland: Of course it is. Of course it is. And realizing Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations is a priority for the United States.
Question: How do you comment on the political situation of Macedonia, and security, especially after the wave of protests about the case “Monster”? And what is your message to political actors here in Macedonia?
Assistant Secretary Nuland: Simply to say, as I said in my opening remarks, that we have long supported a vision of an integrated Macedonia. You have special responsibilities here, in the region, to set the example of the Albanian community, the Macedonian community, living in peace and prosperity together. That takes hard work, it takes outreach by both sides, it takes opportunity for both sides. The Prime Minister outlined some of his plans along those lines and we are very encouraging of efforts of both communities to work together to set the gold standard for this region of peace, security, harmony, inter-ethnic cooperation, and unity. That’s what will make a strong Macedonia. I have personally been committed to that since the days of Ohrid, and we will stay committed to that as a nation and as Macedonia’s partner.
Question: Mrs. Nuland, did you open the issue of the boycott of the Parliament, and do you have an ambition to assist again about the name issue, as we remember that once you tried to do that?
Assistant Secretary Nuland: As I said, the United States will continue to support efforts, through the UN process, to solve the name issue. It’s very, very important to us. And as I said, we talked about the importance of political comity, inter-ethnic harmony, prosperity, both communities moving forward together. Thank you, Prime Minister.