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Macedonia: NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg visit to Skopje

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NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg starts a two-day visit to Skopje, and met for a working dinner with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev. Tomorrow Stoltenberg will have a series of relevant meetings among which: President Gjorge Ivanov, Prime Minister Zaev, Minister of Foreign Affairs Dimitrov, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Sekerinska. On Monday, this last declared that NATO Secretary General’s visit to Macedonia means that the country has returned on Euro-Atlantic track.

Macedonia, Bulgaria and Albania: possibilities for fostering defense cooperation

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The Macedonian, Bulgarian Defense Ministers and Albanian Deputy DM, Radmila Sekerinska, Krasimir Karakachanov and Petro Kochi respectively, discussed Friday in Ohrid on possibilities for fostering the cooperation in the sphere of defense.Today we have expressed political will to strengthen our cooperation in defense and our teams will begin to prepare plans for 2018, Sekerinska said after the meeting, which ‘voiced strong support for the Alliance’s open door policy and Macedonia’s full-fledged NATO membership.’ The closer cooperation between Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania doesn’t cover only the economic cooperation with respect to Corridor 8, but may also be extended to the sphere of defense, Karakachanov said.Kochi said that Albania and Bulgaria would be staunch advocates for Macedonia to join NATO as soon as possible, as the membership status is significant not only to the citizens of the country, but also to the region as a whole.

Tillerson : Macedonia is on good track to be successful example for the region

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Macedonia is on good track to be a successful example for the region, and the United States will continue to play a positive role for the stability and progress of the region and seek ways to help, the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov at Wednesday’s meeting in Washington.Tillerson supported reform agenda in Macedonia urging the government to endure in its implementation.The last meeting of Macedonia Foreign Minister with the US Secretary of State took place in 2008, when then-Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki met with former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.Dimitrov referred to the current political situation in Macedonia and the region, and also briefed Tillerson on the developments in the process of overcoming the name dispute with Greece. Macedonia is friend and partner of the US, we are convinced that with your help, leadership and support of the European allies, we will soon become part of NATO family. Our commitment and determination is enormous and we intend to use this opportunity, Dimitrov said.Informing about the reforms in Macedonia, Dimitrov stressed that the country wants to build strong and democratic institutions, to strengthen the rule of law and make Macedonia a desirable fully fledged member of the Euro-Atlantic community.At the panel entitled “Great Risk, Great Reward: Tackling the Balkans’ Enduring Political Challenges”, which was attended by Hoyt Yee, Enver Hoxha and Astrit Istrefi, and moderated by Janusz Bugajski, Dimitrov spoke about the current situation in the Republic of Macedonia with a special accent to overcoming the name dispute between Macedonia and Greece.Dimitrov also met with regional experts Daniel Serwer, Edward Joseph, Michael Haltzel and Damon Wilson, Executive Vice President at Atlantic Council of the United States and exchanged views on the current situation and perspectives of the region.

 

Zoran Zaev: Macedonia gets Hungary’s support in Euro-Atlantic integration process

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Prime Minister Zoran Zaev met with Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban at the sidelines of the Summit of Heads of Government of Central and Eastern European Countries and China in Budapest on Tuesday. Zaev thanked Orban for Hungary’s support to Macedonia’s efforts on the EU and NATO path, the Government said in a press release. The PM presented Plan 3-6-9 and the country’s steps for improvement of the economy and attraction of foreign investments. PM Zaev also highlighted the need for cooperation with the opposition on all issues related to Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic integration.According to him, economic cooperation is on the rise and Hungary would continue to stimulate its companies to invest in the Western Balkans. Furthermore, Orban said next year’s Bulgarian EU Presidency should be utilized for intensification of the Western Balkans’ EU integration process, reads the press release.

PM Zaev at CEEC-China summit : Macedonia strengthening partnership with China

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Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, who is leading a Macedonian delegation at the 16+1 Summit in Budapest, kicked off Monday official activities as part of the key forum of heads of government Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC) and China.Zaev addressed a plenary session at an economic, trade and financial forum of the 16+1 summit and presented Macedonia’s positions to the event’s participants, namely heads of government, the government press service said. Leaders need to be focused and should work hard to create opportunities for economic development and conditions to improve the standards of living of the citizens, Zaev said in his address adding that these issues had become extremely important in the era of globalization.The Macedonian government, he added, will continue to conduct activities that aim at significantly improving the business climate by introducing better institutional infrastructure to attract investments, thus contributing to an accelerated economic growth, development of the private sector and job creation.In the spirit of cooperation, Macedonia and China cooperate in many fields, most notably in healthcare and medicine. To that end, the government recently has given the green light for the opening of a center for traditional Chinese medicine in the city of Stip,” he said.

 

Kathemerini: positive meeting with Nimetz

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The meeting between representatives of Macedonia and Greece with the UN mediator in the name dispute, Matthew Nimetz, scheduled for Dec. 11-12 in Brussels, is a sign of continuity of the positive climate that has been created in the relations between the two countries after change of government in Macedonia, Greek daily Kathimerini reads.The next NATO Summit, to be held on July 11 and 12 in Brussels, is in function of a time frame, which moves to dispute resolution and achieving a mutually acceptable solution. Macedonia hopes that it will finally open the way to becoming a member of the Alliance.Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias has repeatedly stated that the issue will be resolved in the first half of 2018, warning that if this does not happen, there will be major difficulties.The positions expressed by Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov are moderate and linked with the spirit of readiness to compromise. However, there is a big difference from the public statements to the essential acceptance of a different position. And certainly it is not just a matter of name that caused big reactions in FYROM. Even if a mutually acceptable solution is reached, it is necessary to have the readiness to use it, Kathimerini writes.Two countries implement confidence building measures, through small and easy steps, but symbolic and very useful.In this context, the Greek media commented on noticeable curbing of passions regarding the agenda of former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski over Skopje 2014 project.

Macedonia and Bulgaria sign several cooperation deals

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Officials of the governments of Macedonia and Bulgaria signed agreements on cooperation in several spheres as part of a joint session taking place Thursday in Strumica, eastern Macedonia. Ministers of defence of Macedonia and Bulgaria, Radmila Sekerinska and Krasimir Karakachanov respectively, signed a protocol on cooperation to organize training for Macedonian servicemen at military schools in Bulgaria. The document envisages practical training of tank crews in Bulgaria and it also includes other measures to boost defence cooperation. Also, Macedonia and Bulgaria today made the initiative on cutting international roaming charges in telecoms services official by inking a memorandum.A joint platform is expected to facilitate all participants trading electric power. Under the new market procedures, Macedonian traders will joint forces with their Bulgarian partners on daily markets realized by the Bulgarian power distributor on behalf of the two operators. Common markets on the Bulgaria-Macedonia border will contribute to an increase in electricity trade in the region and increase liquidity of national energy stock markets.Joint procedures are a requirement to unite energy stock markets of the Western Balkans and SEE. Bulgartransgaz, natural gas transmission operator of Bulgaria, and the company Macedonian Energy Resources signed a deal on preparing a feasibility study regarding the construction of a new gas inter-system connection.Its signing implements the memorandum between the Ministry of Energy of Bulgaria and the Macedonian Economy Minister, signed on 1 August 2017, to cooperate with respect to natural gas.Furthermore, the cadastre agencies of the two countries signed an agreement to share cartographic and geodetic materials and information.

 Macedonia needs stronger fiscal consolidation

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Wednesday that the formation of the new government is a turning point for the Macedonian economy, and underscored this as an opportunity to rebuild policy space and revive reforms.Macedonia needs stronger fiscal consolidation due to rapid rise in public debt and high gross financing needs. On the fiscal front, the overall deficit narrowed to 2.6% in 2016, with the improvement largely due to under-execution of capital investment, spending constraints imposed during the pre-election period, and accumulation of payment arrears, the IMF said in its concluding statement on Article IV consultation with Macedonia on the country’s economic performance and policies.The IMF expects Macedonia to close 2017 with fiscal deficit equivalent to around 3% of GDP, while public debt is projected to rise to 47% of GDP, according to the statement. “[IMF] Directors welcomed the authorities’ intention to reduce the overall deficit gradually to 2% of GDP in the medium term, but stressed that this should rely on durable measures”.

Albanian-Macedonian Ties, Existential

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The President of the Republic, Ilir Meta is paying an official visit to Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, at the invitation of his counterpart, Gjorge Ivanov. The two Presidents held a meeting, followed by a meeting between the delegations. Meta praised close historical and cultural ties, and underlined that they are existential and defining. President Ilir Meta was received in a separate meeting by the Prime Minister of Macedonia, Zoran Zaev. Mea congratulated the PM on the positive resùlts of both electoral processes in Macedonia and hailed the concrete engagements of the new government to improve the climate and inter-ethnic relations, but also to create a positive relation with neighboring countries. Meta and Zaev shared the same view on the indispensability to increase economic and trade cooperation, and to enhance energy and infrastrùctùral ties, where the implementation of joint projects in the frame of Corridor 8 is very important. In this frame, President Meta underscored that extraordinary resùlts can be achieved with non-extraordinary investments. The interlocutors expressed confidence that in the upcoming meeting between the two governments, in Pogradec, all these issues regarding comprehensive promotion and development between the two countries will be addressed.

PM Zaev: Macedonia and Serbia united on side of peace

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The Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Serbia will develop successful bilateral relations through which they can contribute to strengthening regional cooperation, Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said in the interview with Belgrade-based daily Politika during his first official visit to Serbia.Zaev told daily Politika that the political and security situation in Macedonia is stable. The political and security situation in Macedonia is stable, we have led the reform processes carefully, bearing in mind the civil and state interests and the current political leadership in the region that showed responsibility for a stable region, I am convinced that we are on the right track to our common strategic goals, Zaev said. He said that European values are needed for citizens in our countries, our perspectives are open and how fast we will reach the desired goal, it depends on us. Both Macedonia and Serbia need peace and stability in their countries as well as in the region and in the world, because only regional and world peace means a truly safe “home”. Political decisions are in fact ways to guarantee peace, but as long as we are together and on the side of peace – we have no problems, Zaev said.He is convinced that the commitment of the leadership of Serbia, the same as in Macedonia, is to resolve all issues peacefully, through dialogue, wisely and with a sense of responsibility.We owe it to the citizens anywhere they live in Macedonia, Serbia, Balkans or worldwide, Zaev said. Zaev agrees that the Macedonian and Serbian people are united with historical and cultural past, on the basis of which the future can be built.

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