Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has promised North Macedonia and Georgia support on their way to the EU, but has also called for a pro-European course from both countries. “North Macedonia’s place is like that of our other Western Balkans partners in the European Union,” said the Green politician at the start of a two-day trip to both countries. Against the background of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, Baerbock should also want to use the trip to send a signal against Moscow’s attempts to influence the country.

Baerbock said she will talk to the Georgian government in Tbilisi on Friday about the steps that still need to be taken to achieve EU accession candidate status. She emphasized: “There can be no shortcut or discount here.”

In the North Macedonian capital of Skopje, the minister wanted to speak to her colleague Bujar Osmani on Thursday. Talks are also planned with Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski, the leader of the opposition party VMRO-DPMNE, Hristijan Mickoski, and President Stevo Pendarovski.

“Expectations are danger and hope at the same time”

Baerbock explained that the hopes and expectations that the people of North Macedonia attach to the EU accession process are both an opportunity and a danger. “Danger because we could lose the Macedonians for Europe if we as the EU disappoint their expectations.” And opportunity, because everyone involved is aware of what is at stake: “A future in the European family, a region with stable prosperity and peace, self-determination.”

In Skopje, Baerbock wants to campaign for the adoption of a constitutional change necessary for further EU rapprochement. The change, which the neighboring country and EU member Bulgaria has demanded, is a prerequisite for the opening of the first negotiation chapters with the EU. North Macedonia, with its approximately 1.8 million inhabitants, is supposed to recognize the approximately 3,000 strong Bulgarian minority in the constitution. North Macedonia has been a candidate country since 2005.

All six Western Balkan states – including North Macedonia, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo – have been waiting for EU membership, some for 20 years. Accession negotiations for North Macedonia and Albania have been ongoing since July 2022. North Macedonia has also chaired the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) since the beginning of the year.

In the Ukraine war, the government in Skopje proved to be a reliable partner for the West. It took over the EU sanctions against Russia and supplied arms to Ukraine as far as possible. As it became known recently, there were also four Soviet-type Sukhoi 25 fighter jets, as the specialist portal “” reported on Monday.

Baerbock visits Georgia on Friday

Baerbock’s visit to Georgia this Friday should also focus on rapprochement with the EU. Last June, the EU made Ukraine and its small neighboring Republic of Moldova candidate countries in connection with the Russian attack on Ukraine. Georgia has been offered this status once certain reforms are completed.

A good two weeks ago, following mass protests, parliament in Tbilisi withdrew plans to classify foreign media and organizations as “agents” that resembled Russian models. Georgia, with its approximately 3.7 million inhabitants, is still under the influence of its large neighbor Russia many years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.