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High-Ranking US Diplomat: EU Should Keep Bilateral Issues Out From the Negotiating Frame

Former US Ambassador to Macedonia and State Department’s Bureau Chief of European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Reeker has stated that the European Union must not allow for a bilateral issue to keep Macedonia away from starting negotiations.

Mr Reeker spoke on December 11 at the 2BS (To Be Safe) Forum in Montenegro which was dedicated to security issues. Regarding the stalled integration of the West Balkans region, he reflected that both Macedonia and Albania have made important steps on the road to European integration.

Regarding Macedonia, Mr Reeker said, “N. Macedonia has done everything that was asked and it should be allowed to continue moving forward. This is an important moment for the EU. We asked Bulgaria to solve its bilateral issues with Macedonia outside the negotiation process while demanding that the intergovernmental conference takes place this year Skopje deserved the opportunity and needs to focus on what’s ahead.”

While encouraging, the statement by the State Department’s Deputy Secretary of State hasn’t been received in earnest by chief representatives of the Bulgarian Government who have oversight over their country’s talks with Macedonia – Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva and Defense Minister Krasimir Karakachanov.

Both politicians have stated that the Macedonian Government should not hope that Bulgaria is going to change its course of politics because it has received reproach from high-ranking foreign diplomats.

At the Montenegro Forum Ambassador Reeker said that the West Balkans is at the center of a geo-strategic game and that Moscow is actively opposing the integration of the Balkan states as part of the EU.

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