North Macedonia’s foreign minister Bujar Osmani said on Tuesday that the European Union must do more to help his country secure the vaccines against coronavirus.
Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani told AFP during a Paris visit that his country had been able to begin a modest vaccination campaign thanks to donations of a few thousand vaccine doses from Serbia.
But he deplored the absence of any EU assistance, saying Brussels was sending “the wrong message” to the Balkans by “leaving the region without vaccines”.
Landlocked North Macedonia, which shares a border with Greece, Albania, Kosovo, Serbia and Bulgaria, became independent in 1991, joined NATO last year and has been trying for over 15 years to secure EU membership.
In 2018, the country of two million inhabitants agreed to add “North” to its name to get Greece to drop its veto to membership.
However, Bulgaria’s position that North Macedonia’s language is a dialect of Bulgarian and not a language of its own remains an obstacle to membership.
Osmani said North Macedonia had last year ordered and paid for 800,000 Astra Zeneca vaccine doses through the World Health Organization’s Covax system, and ordered another 800,000 doses from the Pfizer group directly but “nothing has come to Macedonia as yet”.
He said “every day we are delaying the vaccines puts more people in danger, in particular the vulnerable ones”, adding that his government was trying to secure Chinese vaccines, with 200,000 Sinopharm doses expected in the coming days.