(DF) PM Borissov: “I Hope North Macedonia Will Show Different Development after It Joins NATO”

December 14 (BTA) – Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov hopes that North Macedonia will show a different way of development when it joins NATO. “I hope that North Macedonia, once it becomes the 30th NATO member and joins this [North-Atlantic] family, will soon show a difference in development, and at the same time I expect the other countries which want to join the EU or NATO, to show more wisdom and carefully consider their actions,” Borissov said as he addressed the second annual Western Balkans Resilience Forum of the International Republican Institute of the US, taking place in Sofia December 12-14. He said that “a straddling position is not good for anybody: you are either in NATO or you are not, you are either in the European family or you are not”. “No matter how much we want, it is hard to have a country in the Balkans with the role that Austria or Switzerland play. Everybody wants military neutrality and, if possible, a fat bank account but it is not up to us to have these,” said also the Bulgarian government leader. He said that over 10-15 years ago, nobody wanted to hear about the Balkans “because we deserved that: wars, mass annihilation, countries coming apart and the entire region turning into a powder keg which did not deserve any attention”. “But the Bulgarian Presidency of the EU put relations in the region on the agenda and multiple processes that followed after that brought the region back in the focus of attention of the European and US leaders.” He said that Bulgaria will put the Western Balkans on the agenda two more times in the coming year: as it co-hosts the Berlin process together with North Macedonia, and then on May 27-28 when Sofia is due to host an Aqaba Process forum. Borissov said that cooperation is very important for the Balkans and singled out several aspects of cooperation that he believes needs to be prioritized: ensuring fast information exchange among the special services and the Interior Ministries of the Western Balkans and signing the interagency documents that will make that possible. In conclusion, he said that “when there is security in the Balkans, more investments come, the gross domestic product increases, people’s incomes grow and it is easier to work”. LN/