Speech: PM speech in Macedonia: 17 May 2018

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Thank you, Prime Minister, thank you for the warm welcome.

Im delighted to be here in Skopje as we mark the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Macedonia and the UK.

Im proud to be the first British Prime Minister in almost 20 years to visit this beautiful country.

As Prime Minister Zaev has just mentioned, today we both attended the first EU Summit with the Western Balkans since 2003.

Here leaders from across Europe and the region were working together to discuss the next steps we could take to help deliver stability, security and prosperity for the Western Balkans.

I know that the conflicts of the past can sometimes seem almost impossible to overcome.

Many difficult questions remain unresolved, including internal conflicts in the region, serious and organised crime, illegal migration and extremism.

We must be alive to the challenges of the past, yet remain ambitious in securing the peaceful, prosperous and democratic future that your citizens and communities deserve.

With the right political will, progress can be rapid and far-reaching – just look at what has happened here in Macedonia.

Just 18 months after Parliamentary elections, were already seeing significant changes and a government that is working hard to uphold the rule of law, reach out to its neighbours and make progress in negotiations on the Name Issue.

I know that both Macedonia and Greece are working closely to find a solution and this requires political courage and a willingness to make difficult decisions. Resolution will bring clear benefits to both countries and also to the region as a whole. And you can rely on the UKs full support in this.

We want to see Macedonia continue on this positive path. Thats why the UK has quadrupled the support we give to Macedonia to contribute towards this governments reform programme.

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Its why we are sharing our military expertise and are assisting Macedonias Strategic Defence Review, as you aim to adapt the Macedonian Army to NATO standards.

And its why we took the decision to host the next Western Balkans Summit in London in July – as part of the Berlin process.

Here we will look to strengthen regional security cooperation in the Western Balkans, improve economic stability, and foster greater political cooperation and overcome legacy issues stemming from the struggles of the past thirty years.

Prime Minister Zaev, your country is an integral part of Europe. And we know that a strong, stable and prosperous Western Balkans region benefits all European countries.

Our friendship, our relationship will continue to deepen, even as the UK embarks on a future outside of the European Union.

We are all Europeans. And as Macedonias response to the Salisbury attack shows, we share the same values and we face the same challenges that are better tackled when we work together.

So, today after 25 years, weve never been closer.

And, Prime Minister Zaev, I look forward to welcoming you to London in July to continue this important discussion.

Thank you

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