Statement of Assistant Secretary Karen Donfried

Statement of Assistant Secretary Karen Donfried
at press availability with Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani
April 28, 2022
Skopje, Republic of North Macedonia

Thank you so much and good morning to all of you. It has already been a full, productive day meeting with the Prime Minister and Minister Osmani to discuss issues of mutual interest to our two countries and how we can advance our strategic partnership. Thank you Mr. Minister for the warm welcome on my first official visit here as Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.  Thank you also for your courage, your leadership, and your friendship as our newest NATO Ally. You are defending the very tenets of democracy and the rules-based order as you stand with us and other international partners in support of the people of Ukraine and their right to determine their own future. You know how important freedom is and have repeatedly proven to be a steadfast partner and contributor to security in the region and around the globe.

The United States commends North Macedonia for its continued commitment to its Euro-Atlantic future. Know that we strongly support your aspirations and want to see the EU hold Intergovernmental Conferences with North Macedonia – and Albania – as soon as possible. You have been delayed for much too long. You have done the hard work and are undertaking the necessary reforms, and you deserve to advance expeditiously. We have said it before, and we will say it again: North Macedonia’s future is in the European Union. Your accession will bring greater stability throughout the Balkans and greater prosperity to Europe.

We appreciate your current role in the OSCE Troika and look forward to your chairpersonship-in-office in 2023. This is a time of great challenge and opportunity. North Macedonia has shown that it is willing to stand up for democracy and human rights – and soon you will be in a position of leadership as you work with other countries that are looking to do the same. You will continue to lead by example. Follow up on your commitments made at President Biden’s Summit for Democracy – to fight corruption and to build a more equitable, open, and inclusive society – with strong action. Keep up the pace of reforms. There is work to be done, but North Macedonia has proven it is up to the challenge.

Thank you again for your partnership. We, as the United States, look forward to continuing the good work we are doing together, both in North Macedonia and in our global community. And I look forward to deeper discussions with you between our governments on a range of defense and security, energy, and information sharing efforts. To that end, I am pleased to echo Minister Osmani’s announcement that representatives from both of our governments will be holding a dialogue in Washington on June 2. Let’s keep the momentum going. Thank you so much.

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