French President Emmanuel Macron was right to want to change the European Union’s membership process, North Macedonian President Stevo Pendarovski said on Tuesday.
But Pendarovski said that “nobody could explain” to North Macedonians how they changed the name of their country in order to join the EU and NATO and yet were blocked from EU membership talks.
The former Yugoslav republic changed its name from Macedonia this year in order to appease EU and NATO member Greece, which insists that that name belongs to its own northern province with its historic legacy.
Speaking after a meeting with Macron in Paris, Pendarovski said the French president had explained why he blocked the opening of membership talks for North Macedonia and Albania last month.
“I am not speaking about the timetable,” but Macron was right to want “reversibility” in the process, Pendarovski said.
“Everybody knows” there are full EU member states “who are not living up to the highest democratic standards,” he added.
Apart from the name change, other reforms introduced by North Macedonia were not just to join the EU but “for our people,” he added: “I would like these reforms to be profound, sustainable and irreversible.”
North Macedonia’s application to join the NATO military alliance, which is still on course, was more urgent for a country in the unsettled Balkan region, the president added.
North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev called new elections in October after France, backed by Denmark and the Netherlands, blocked the opening of EU membership talks.