North Macedonia Prime Minister Zoran Zaev on Saturday called for an early election after the European Union decided against membership talks for the Balkan state, denying his administration a key policy success.

During a press briefing, Zaev said, “We do not have time to lose. My suggestion is organizing early elections as soon as possible. Elections in which the citizens will come up with decision and confirmation of the path that the country should be moving on. Towards the true path of European values or towards the dark path of division and conflicts”.

“This is what I’m proposing: organising quick snap elections where you, citizens, will decide the road we are going to take,” Zaev said,

“I would meet with the president and other political leaders on Sunday to discuss the next steps”, Zaev further added.

“I have no date, all options are open, we will agree on that all together,” he added.

Addressing to the media, Zaev said that he shared the “anger and disappointment” of the people.

A Social Democrat, Zaev came to power in 2017, ousting the right-wing party of former strongman Nikola Gruevksi who had been in power for a decade.

His government has poured all of its political capital into putting North Macedonia on a path to EU membership since then.

Apart from France, all the other European Union states accepted that North Macedonia had made enough progress on reforms to start talks.

But French President Emmanuel Macron refused to budge from his position that the entire accession process must first be reformed before taking in new members.

The failure to follow through is now “disastrous” for the EU’s credibility in the Western Balkans region, said James Ker-Lindsay, a Balkans expert at the London School of Economics.

(With inputs from agencies)