Belen with a message: Stay on the European path, do not dramatize the constitutional changes

I understand the frustrations of the long duration of the process, but this increased interest in the EU for enlargement and for the region should be used and no additional time should be lost. I personally hope that the change will happen quickly, said Van der Bellen at the press conference with the host, President Stevo Pendarovski, who said that if we insert the Bulgarians into the Constitution, the state will not collapse, nor will Macedonian sovereignty and independence be threatened. and the European way.

With a message not to dramatize the request for the inclusion of Bulgarians in the Constitution, and for the MPs to understand that it depends on them when the country will start and how quickly it will go through the next steps in the negotiations with the EU, Austrian President Alexander van der Bellen today ended the political part of his two-day official visit to Macedonia.

At the joint press conference with his host, President Stevo Pendarovski, after presenting his position on the necessity of constitutional amendments, Belen announced that in the Parliament he would ask all parliamentary groups to think deeply about what they risk in the long term by not voting for the next step, i.e. for the changes to The Constitution. He did that to her. He told the MPs that he does not believe that the talks from July last year will be repeated before we start the negotiations.

- The protection of minorities is understood here in North Macedonia, so this step should not be dramatized. North Macedonia is an example in the region regarding the protection of minorities, and this applies not only to the Albanian, but also to all others. In order for the negotiation process with the EU to continue quickly, one additional step would be helpful, and that is a change to the Constitution. I understand the frustrations of the long duration of the process, but this increased interest in the EU for enlargement and for the region should be used and no additional time should be lost. I personally hope that the change will happen quickly, said Van der Bellen at the press conference with Pendarovski.

He spoke openly about the French proposal and said that he is aware that Macedonia made a difficult but right choice. The country's place is in the EU and it is on the right track, and Austria will continue to support us. At the same time, it encouraged us to be motivated and focused and with concrete results to convince the countries in the EU that we deserve membership.

- We are convinced that you will succeed in making the constitutional amendments. It is necessary to look forward, to work in the direction of a common European future. I know that this is a difficult path for you, the frustration is understandable, but please do not lose sight of the goal - appealed Van der Bellen, mentioning Croatia as an example of how we should unite and work to reach the European Union.

President Pendarovski, on the other hand, at the joint press conference, answering questions about the constitutional amendments, said that Macedonia will not suffer any harm if the community of 3,5 thousand Bulgarians enters the Constitution.

- The state will not fail if we insert the Bulgarians into the Constitution. Neither Macedonian sovereignty, nor independence, nor the European path will be threatened if this step is taken - said Pendarovski.

He also said that those who think that the negotiation framework with the EU is not good and that if they came to power they would make it better, they do not know how the mechanisms in the European Union work.

– If someone can negotiate a better negotiation framework, I will be the first to congratulate them. But I warn them that there is no chance to negotiate a thing that has been agreed with 27 members. That negotiating framework has been negotiated for several months, France was only a mediator, but all other members, including Bulgaria, agreed. Tomorrow you may have the best idea, but if all the members do not agree, this negotiation framework remains - said Pendarovski.

The President of the State announced that these days a working group of experts will be formed within the Ministry of Justice, which should start compiling the amendments and which will include experts proposed by the Government and the President.

- We expect this working group to quickly come up with the specific content of a proposed amendment or amendments, after which they enter the parliamentary procedure. If there is no two-thirds majority and constitutional changes, we will be blocked again, but now by our own decision. I hope that the only way to reach two-thirds is to talk with the MPs from the opposition, I don't want to see another approach to that majority - said Pendarovski, adding that, in his opinion, the very content of the amendment is benign.

If the opposition decides not to participate either in the working group or in the Parliamentary Commission for Constitutional Affairs, it is clear that even if he organizes a meeting of the opposition, they will not participate. The president thinks that they are wrong, he called them to get involved and state their arguments, and he thinks that the work of the group should be broadcasted live to see the public confrontation of the arguments.

When asked by a journalist whether it is possible to obtain new conditions with new issues in the EU process, Pendarovski explained that the conditions that Bulgaria has set for us in the last two years, no one could have predicted, neither in Brussels nor here.

– In 2017/19, when we made constitutional amendments and changed the name, it was promised that there would be no new demands. Bulgaria was also in that consensus. Our referendum question was whether to add Severna to the name in order to become a member of NATO and start negotiations with the EU. We believed that there would be no new requests. Citizens justifiably ask if there will be new demands from another or from the same country if we make these constitutional changes. I believe that such a thing will not happen. The credibility of the EU, as a community - a champion of respect for human rights, is now drastically damaged here, because we are the only country that has changed its name, and is still waiting in the lobby of the EU. To problematize something that has nothing to do with the value principles of the EU and that with historical issues is inadmissible - said Pendarovski.

Van der Belen, who was in Ohrid at the beginning of the official visit, came to the country with representatives of 25 companies, with the aim of improving economic relations.

- I am glad that I am accompanied by representatives of 25 companies from various fields, services, green energy, agriculture... it shows the great interest in your country. Where we come, we stay there - Van der Bellen said.

Yesterday, the Austrian president and Pendarovski laid flowers on the grave of Gotse Delchev in the church "St. Spas" in Skopje.

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