Ambassador Rusi: By building an atmosphere of dialogue and mutual respect, we can open a new paradigm in Macedonian-Bulgarian relations
Despite all the challenges, European integration has no alternative for North Macedonia, just as there is no alternative to building friendship, good neighborliness and cooperation between North Macedonia and Bulgaria, said the Macedonian ambassador in Sofia, Agnesa Rusi Popovska, in an interview with the Bulgarian Nova TV.
She added that in Macedonian society there is a broad consensus for EU membership, both politically and inter-ethnically, and this has been the case since independence until today.
- Northern Macedonia is the oldest candidate for EU membership from the countries of the Western Balkans. We have been a candidate since 2005, that's 18 years. These days we are finishing the screening process and this allows us to conduct an in-depth study of the entire country and assess the degree of compliance with the standards of the European Union - said Rusi-Popovska.
The ambassador said that North Macedonia, even when compared to the countries of the region that have been negotiating with the EU for a long time, is not lagging behind in terms of respect and compliance with EU legislation.
- We are currently finalizing three very important roadmaps – for the rule of law, for reforms in public administration and for the functioning of democratic institutions, and of course we are harmonizing, we are preparing the action plan for minorities and in practice we are preparing for the opening of the first cluster of the negotiation process as soon as we made the constitutional amendments - said Rusi-Popovska.
The ambassador says that the potential for more dynamic multi-sectoral cooperation between North Macedonia and Bulgaria is huge.
- Last year we had a historically high level of trade of over one billion euros. The forecasts for this year are that we will manage to achieve the same level, and maybe slightly exceed the level of trade we achieved last year - says Rusi Popovska in the interview.
She added that there are continuous positive results in cross-border cooperation as well.
- Corridor 8 is a strategic project between our two countries, the value of which has been increasing lately. In North Macedonia, we are working on a railway connection and our expectations are to have a railway connection to the border with Bulgaria by the end of 2027 - said Rusi-Popovska.
The ambassador added that the cultural cooperation is also dynamic, to which the cultural and information centers in Sofia and Skopje contribute, but there is potential and interest for even greater cooperation.
- I deeply believe that we can be the closest countries and I am convinced that by building an atmosphere of dialogue and mutual respect, with wisdom and tact, we can really open a new paradigm in Macedonian-Bulgarian relations - said Rusi-Popovska.