Together we can beat Turkey and other countries in the European market

By | May 2, 2023

“Five years after the signing of the Prespa Agreement and 4 years after it was approved by parliaments, many things have changed for the better,” Zoran Zaev told Naftemporiki TV on the sidelines of the Delphi Economic Forum, underlining the help received by the country. of Greece both during the pandemic and during the energy crisis.

“Greece is now our second strategic partner after the United States. We only have two strategic partners. Through this cooperation, even the new government has helped us a lot, starting with the coronavirus pandemic, sharing vaccines, sharing experiences with us and helping our people to survive. During the energy crisis, we also received the most aid from Greece. Heavy oil, crude, lignite, natural gas. All NATO countries relied heavily on Russian gas. But it’s very different when you have friends that help you,” he said.

Investments in energy and Cebren hydroelectric project with PPC

Mr. Zaev noted that after the Agreement, bilateral trade increased by more than 20% – 25%. Right now, investments from Greece in North Macedonia amounting to 2.5 billion euros are pending, mainly in energy, he said, announcing that very soon we will have the signatures with PPC for the large development project of the Cebren hydroelectric power station. Construction groups like Mytilineos, Kopelouzos, Intrakat are also investing in the country, while Greek companies have a presence in North Macedonia also in the agricultural sector, the textile industry, the banking sector and insurance.

“The Agreement is not easy for the citizens of Greece or North Macedonia, because we had to concede something. But we became friends and this friendship will continue in the future, because we are stronger when we are together. Greece is a developed country, one one of the first members of NATO, one of the first members of the EU and even Prime Minister Mitsotakis helped us a lot, Foreign Minister Dendias, Alexis Tsipras during his own administration We are now a more stable, safer country and the standard of living of our politicians is better”, he said.

Mr. Zaev said that his country can learn a lot from Greece in the field of tourism. “Of course we don’t have a sea to develop our tourism in this way, but we have lakes and mountains and Greece has very well organized tourism organizations, tourism services, from which we can learn.”

Joint promotion of agricultural production

He also stressed the importance of cooperation in the agricultural sector, with the aim of jointly promoting our production on the European market. “The agricultural sector is also very important, not only for us to buy products from one country to another. We can beat Turkey, southern Italy, southern Spain with our products on the European market, which pays a lot. Our own production is very low, but together with Greece we have sufficient quantities and excellent quality, ecological production, organic production and we can enter the European market dynamically,” he said, adding: “If we want to have more recognition from the West and the Northern Europe we must work together. Our region is small, but together we are very strong. If we’re smart, we’ll do it.”

Asked to comment on the European perspective of his country and the Western Balkans in general, Mr. Zaev said: “After the Prespa Agreement, we were honored to become a member of NATO. Now with NATO we are safe. and this applies to the whole region, not just North Macedonia. As you know, we are a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country and under the NATO umbrella we have stability and security. Without insurance, you cannot plan your finances or even family affairs.” .

“We do not want authoritarian regimes, we want democracy and freedoms”

The second strategic objective, he emphasized, is entry into the European Union. Now the country is in the selection stage. “We hope that the selection process will be completed by November-December and then the chapters and clusters will be opened based on the new methodology. This means the Europeanization of North Macedonia,” he noted, while noting that “Europeanization for us means strengthening the standard of living, more opportunities to enter the European market, equal opportunities with European citizens and the best possible use of European funds.

Through the European course, he said, the well-being of our citizens will be strengthened, which is the most important thing, while he called on all the Western Balkans to move as quickly as possible. “The war in Ukraine makes this imperative. We are pro-Western. Not just me personally or my government, but the citizens. More than 80% are in favor of NATO and the EU. We have decided to go in this direction. We do not want authoritarian regimes, we want Democracy, we want freedom, solidarity. This is the intention of our people and the European Union offers it to us, ”she stressed.

How do the Greeks receive it?

The former Prime Minister of North Macedonia came to our country on his motorcycle and had the opportunity to talk to many people. How was he received? “I am the person who signed the Prespa Agreement and people are positive with me although not everyone is very happy with the Agreement. I know, these are elections. But everyone tells me, Zoran, you are a good friend of Greece. Some really liked it, others liked it even though it was against the Prespa Agreement. They tell me: ‘Look, I’m against the Agreement, but you’re a good guy, let’s have an ouzo, a coffee, a frappe,'” he said. “The spirit of the agreement is good. And I am happy that the ND government also continues to support the cooperation with North Macedonia, it continues in the right direction, because this will bring benefits for both nations”, he concluded.

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