‘Long-term peace in Balkans impossible without Turkey’

A long-term peace in the Balkans is impossible without Turkey, according to a top North Macedonian politician.

The leader of the AlternAtivA political party Afrim Gashi, who is part of the broad government coalition in northern Macedonia, evaluated the latest developments in Western Balkans and his country's relations with Turkey.

Turkey plays an important role in the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo, Gashi told Anadolu Agency.

"A long-term peace in the Balkans is impossible without Turkey," Gashi said.

"Turkey's involvement would not only facilitate an agreement between Serbia and Kosovo, but it would also benefit Turkey to have good relations with Albanians. Also, as a NATO member and a strong U.S. partner in NATO, Turkey can be the guarantor of peace," he added.

Gashi stressed the need for a dialogue that would eventually lead to mutual recognition, adding that such an agreement would improve Kosovo-Serbia relations and bring long-term peace to the Balkans as well.

He also said they had very productive meetings during a recent delegation visit to Turkey, which he led.

The aim of the visit was to attract Turkish investors to North Macedonia, and they wanted to improve economic as well as institutional ties between the two countries, Gashi said.

North Macedonia is a 'de facto' NATO member

The agreement, signed last June with the neighbor country of Greece, ended a quarter-century name issue, said Gashi.

He said he is expecting North Macedonia to complete the process of ratification of the NATO candidacy protocol by the end of the year.

"North Macedonia is a 'de facto' NATO member, and we are now waiting for all NATO member countries to legally complete this process," said Gashi.

In June 2018, the country -- previously known as Macedonia -- agreed to change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia under a deal in which Greece dropped its objection to North Macedonia joining NATO and the EU.

The name issue has kept Macedonia from joining the EU and the NATO since its independence in 1991.

Macedonia's international recognition was finalized in April 1993, when the country was unanimously adopted as a member of the UN General Assembly, but was admitted as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) due to pressure by Greece.

Turkey has long recognized the country as Macedonia and supported its Euro-Atlantic integration.

Source: Anadolu Agency