RIGA - Talks on North Macedonia's accession to the European Union (EU) have to be started as soon as possible, Latvian President Egils Levits believes.
Elina Kresa, a representative of the Latvian president's press office, told LETA that Levits who is currently in Skopje on an official visit, met with President of North Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski to discuss current security situation in Europe, NATO’s future strategy and deepening of bilateral ties between Latvia and North Macedonia.
While discussing North Macedonia's integration with Europe, the Latvian president welcomed reforms implemented by North Macedonia and underlined that Latvia fully supports a launch of EU accession talks with the Western Balkan nation in near future.
"Latvia has been advocating for North Macedonia in the EU. We have always supported EU enlargement towards Western Balkans. Country has made good progress in terms of reforms needed to become a member of the EU, which means that accession negotiations can start real soon. North Macedonia must eventually become an EU member state," the Latvian president said.
The presidents of Latvia and North Macedonia discussed the current security situation in Europe and Russian invasion of Ukraine. North Macedonia has joined EU sanctions against Russia, said President Pendarovski, while Levits stressed that it is not only territorial integrity of Ukraine that is at stake here as Ukrainians continue to fight for the whole democratic Europe.
"Latvia supports Ukraine in its struggle. We have demonstrated our support by sending military assistance worth a third of our defense budget to Ukraine. We believe other countries should also continue providing vital support," Levits said.
On the future strategy of NATO, President Levits congratulated North Macedonia on accession and underlined that Latvia is ready to continue active consultations within the Alliance.
"North Macedonia is a strategic NATO ally in the Western Balkans. We appreciate your readiness to join NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Latvia. We must work together on NATO’s future strategy based on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine," the Latvian president said.
Levits and Pendarovski also discussed deeper trade relations between Latvia and North Macedonia, as well as future cooperation within international organizations.
President Pendarovski confirmed North Macedonia’s intentions to deepen economic, cultural and other ties between the Baltic and Balkan regions.