Deputy Prime Minister Bojan Marichic, Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs of North Macedonia
Ambassador Kate Marie Byrnes, U.S. Ambassador to North Macedonia
Dr. Evelyn Farkas, Executive Director, McCain Institute
Paul Fagan, Human Rights and Democracy Programs Director, McCain Institute
The McCain Institute at Arizona State University hosted a conversation focused on the efforts to bring the newest NATO member, North Macedonia, into the European Union.
The discussion featured Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs of North Macedonia Bojan Marichic, U.S. Ambassador to North Macedonia Kate Marie Byrnes and McCain Institute Executive Director Dr. Evelyn Farkas. The conversation was moderated by McCain Institute Human Rights & Democracy Program Director Paul Fagan.
The discourse centered around North Macedonia’s position as a helpful partner of both the United States and NATO, and as a target for Russian and third-party disinformation campaigns. All the panelists praised the growth of North Macedonia’s democratic institutions and commitment to maintaining that progress.
The timing of this event comes just after the six-month mark of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which has raised alarms in many former Eastern Bloc states including North Macedonia
“We don’t just want to be a European Union member, we want to be a valuable member of the European Union that can actually contribute to economic development, the stability of the region and the democratic development of European institutions,” said Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs of North Macedonia Bojan Marichic. “We know this is an issue and we would really like to be a positive factor in the European Union, just as we have given the same effort to NATO.”
“What Russia has done in Ukraine is increasingly of concern here in North Macedonia,” said U.S. Ambassador to North Macedonia Kate Marie Byrnes. “What Russia’s actions in Ukraine have done is crystallize the importance of priorities that we have been working on for a long time [in North Macedonia] and really brought home the importance of completing some of the work that has been done to strengthen the democratic institutions here, to support not just the rule of law efforts but the efforts in building a strong civil society and a vibrant and independent media which is one of the most important answers to disinformation.”
“The latest phase of the war against Ukraine being waged by Russia has made it more urgent for us to consolidate democracy not just in the Balkans, but across the world,” said McCain Institute Executive Director Dr. Evelyn Farkas. “The geopolitical context is important, and Russia is bearing down with increased pressure on those countries that are trying to become NATO members and EU members.”
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Quotes from the Panelists
Ambassador Kate Marie Byrnes, US Ambassador to North Macedonia
“One of Senator McCain’s last overseas tours was here to the Western Balkans in 2017; that still resonates here and it reflected an extended period of time of bipartisan support for seeing the western Balkans fully integrated into Europe.”
“For the United States, the EU accession of Northern Macedonia is very much a part of this bigger picture. We see the future of Europe as a unified block of democracies that share the same strategic values and strategic goals”
“We have seen them not only step up as a good NATO ally but a stalwart, steady NATO ally even when challenged by the most current circumstances by Russia and Ukraine…We think that our investment in North Macedonia’s journey into NATO has already paid off and likewise, our support for their process with the EU is also going to be a huge return on investment for the United States as well as for the citizens of this country.”
“I think when we turn then to the effort on EU accession, we also need to recognize that making some of these smart decisions upfront and investments upfront are courageous, they’re bold and a country that wants to be successful in the accession process has got to tackle some of the toughest challenges and the most important challenges first.”
Bojan Marichic, Deputy Prime Minister of European Affairs of North Macedonia
“We can proudly confirm once again that we stand together with our Euro-Atlantic partners and as a member of NATO.”
“We don’t want just to be members of the European Union, we would like to be a valuable member of the European Union that can actually contribute to economic development, to the stability of this region, and to the democratic development of European institutions. We know this is an issue in the EU and we would like really to be a positive factor of the European Union, just as we are giving the same effort for NATO, we would like to be a good ally…”
Dr. Evelyn Farkas, Executive Director of the McCain Institute
“Senator McCain was always focused on expanding democracy to those countries and peoples who wanted to be part of the Euro-Atlantic community which is actually more than the Euro-Atlantic really, the global community of democracies.”
“North Macedonia came to the table with regard to the attack by terrorists against the United States on 9/11…Macedonia was actively engaged in our peace effort, in our military effort, the NATO effort, the coalition effort, from day one and was with us till the very end, that’s important to note. North Macedonia really, as the ambassador mentioned, stepped up to the table in the current conflict, the current aggression that Russia is visiting upon the Ukrainian people.”