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Commission Upbeat on Macedonian Reforms

April 19, 2013

Macedonia has made progress in almost all EU-related areas, a special European Commission report presented on Tuesday said.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic, Balkan Insight, 17.04.2012

At the presentation of the report in Strasbourg, the European Enlargement Commissioner, Stefan Fuele, said that the implementation of reforms in Macedonia “is ongoing and largely back on track” after the country resolved a crisis triggered by incidents in parliament on December 24.

Fule praised the country for having “taken steps” to improve relations with Greece and Bulgaria, and expressed hope that the new round of UN led Greece-Macedonia name talks last week will bear results.

“There has been additional progress on the reforms track and on good neighbourly relations,” Fuele said.

However, the Commissioner said the country still has a lot to do to implement the agreement from March 1 that ended the crisis between the government and the opposition.

“I called on politicians in Skopje to make extra efforts to deliver on their commitment, [by forming a] committee of inquiry [on the December 24 events], reaching a memorandum of understanding on EU integration and resuming dialogue with journalists,” Fuele said.

Ashton in Skopje
Adding more weight to the report, the EU foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, on Tuesday arrived in Skopje where she met President Gjorge Ivanov, Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and other party leaders.Calling Macedonia’s EU prospects “alive and achievable”, Ashton underlined the significance of nurturing good-neighbourly relations and settling the long-standing name row with Greece.

She urged Macedonian leaders to seize the chance.

“A solution without a delay is needed [on the name dispute].It is better to act sooner than later,” Ashton told a press conference in Skopje.

She also urged the government to continue implementing the 2001 Ohrid Peace Accord, which ended an ethnic Albanian revolt, and to maintain dialogue with the media, which she said was essential.

“EU integration starts at home,” Ashton said.

Last December, the EU Council said that any decision on opening accession talks with Macedonia would be based on the now released special report.

The report was to assess whether Macedonia had made genuine steps towards reaching a deal with Greece over its name, whether it had improved relations with Bulgaria, and whether it had carried out enough internal reforms.

While the special report on Macedonia will be on the table at the European Council meeting on April 22, the final decision on whether to start talks with Macedonia is expected to be reached by EU chiefs in June.

European Commission reports have annually recommended a start to Macedonian membership talks since 2009.

But Macedonia has never been offered a date for the talks owing to the Greek blockade related to the dispute over its name.

Greece insists that Macedonia’s name implies territorial claims to its own northern province, also called Macedonia.

 

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From → EU, FYROM, Negotiations

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