Theresa May has reaffirmed Britain’s commitment to Europe’s security post-Brexit as she prepares to become the first Prime Minister to visit Macedonia in almost 20 years.
Mrs May will tell the 27 other national leaders that Britain is unconditionally committed to maintaining Europe’s security when they meet at the EU-Western Balkans summit in Sofia.
Following Thursday’s summit in the Bulgarian capital she will travel to Skopje for talks with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, the first visit to the country by a serving British premier since Tony Blair in 1999.
Mrs May said: “This year, as we mark the 25th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Macedonia and the UK, the ties between our countries are stronger than ever.
“Next year the UK is leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe – and we will continue to work with our allies to protect our collective security and champion the European values that so many in Macedonia and the wider Western Balkans share.”
The last wars on European soil took place in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo in the Balkans in the 1990s, following the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.
Downing Street said Mrs May’s talks in Macedonia would cover strengthening democracy in the former Communist country.
They will also discuss the dispute with neighbouring Greece over the name “Macedonia” that has been running since 1991.
An area of northern Greece is also called Macedonia and Athens has asked Mr Zaev’s country to change its name.
Mrs May will also use her visit on International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia to meet LGBT activists about their experiences in the country, Downing St said.