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Herman Van Rompuy starts his visit to the Western Balkans

20. October 2010. | 06:20 06:24

Source: Emg.rs, EurActiv, MIA

The President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy started his regional visit to the Western Balkans on 19 October. He will visit Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania.

The President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy started his regional visit to the Western Balkans on 19 October. He will visit Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania.

Prior to his visit, Mr Van Rompuy stated:

"[…] Europe is committed to a European perspective of the Western Balkans. A lot of efforts are done by the countries themselves, by the governments and the people. But a lot still needs to be done. There is no time for complacency. Preparing a European future is a demanding task.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy officially visited Montenegro for the first time where he met with Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, President Filip Vujanovic and Parliament President Ranko Krivokapic. He discussed with Montenegrin officials about cooperation, reforms in Montenegro, the forthcoming European Commission opinion on Montenegro, EU membership and other regional matters.

Montenegrin PM informed the Council President on what Montenegro has done since independence to improve lives of citizens, as well as what should be the next steps on the road towards EU and NATO membership.

He stressed out that Montenegro expects a positive opinion of the European Commission early November, which will hopefully be verified at the European Summit in December.

President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy told the press that he came to Podgorica “with the message of encouragement and the reinforced message of the European perspective. I encourage your country to continue the reform efforts and the positive role it is playing in the region.”

President of the European Council commended the Prime Minister and the Government on the progress achieved in European integration, state building and the necessary reforms and expressed the European Union’s full support for Montenegro’s EU bid. He also highlighted in particular Montenegro’s record in interethnic dialogue and cooperation and its constructive role in regional cooperation.

President Van Rompuy also noted that Montenegro achieved visa liberalization last December, while Stabilization and Association Agreement entered into force in May and that soon, in three weeks, the European Commission will present its opinion and recommendations on Montenegro’s EU membership application.

He underlined the importance of reform efforts, with particular emphasis on judicial reform and the fight against corruption and organized crime.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy praised Tuesday in Skopje the progress FYRMacedonia has made towards the European Union membership, called the country to maintain the reform pace and urged for faster settling of the name row, which will open the European door to the country.

The EU membership is very important for Macedonia, as it will act as an anchor of its multiethnic society, Van Rompuy said at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.

"EU is a strong supporter of the European vocation of this country. The support is accompanied with our expectations for maintaining the pace of the reform process. I have encouraged the Prime Minister to invest additional efforts and energy on the road to realization of the European perspective, Van Rompuy said.

He also reaffirmed the EU support of the process for settling Skopje-Athens row over Macedonia's name.

"EU is not part of the (name) negotiating process, but I believe there is great opportunity for its swift settlement. This opportunity, which will finally open the European door, should not be missed, Van Rompuy said.

Rompuy's visit to Macedonia demonstrates the strong support of Macedonia's EU integration, and in general of the enlargement process, which has contributed to the expansion of the area of peace, security and prosperity in Europe, Gruevski said.

Macedonian Government remains committed to the Euro-integration process, as a strategic priority of the country, and hence to faster opening of the EU accession talks, Gruevski said.

Macedonia's EU membership should be viewed in a broader context, as it is also the most powerful factor of cohesion of the country's multiethnic and multiconfessional society, Gruevski said. It will also give additional impetus to the reforms and regional stability, the PM said. All of these should make it easier to Van Rompuy and the Belgian Presidency to decide on opening of Macedonia's EU accession talks at the upcoming meetings of the European Council in line with the last year European Commission recommendation, Gruevski said.

Meanwhile, the Government remains focused on two tracks - advancing of the reform process, application of the EU standards in Macedonia and investment of maximum efforts for settling the name row under the UN auspices, Gruevski added.

"I have expressed belief that the European Commission will objectively valorize the achieved results in the upcoming report on the Macedonia's progress as it has been doing thus far," Gruevski said.

Referring to the name issue, Gruevski said that Macedonia would continue to play an active and constructive role in the UN-sponsored negotiations in favor of reaching a mutually acceptable solution.

Gruevski-Van Rompuy meeting also addressed the developments in the Balkan region. In this respect, Gruevski expressed belief that the EU would acknowledge Macedonia's contribution to the regional security by swift opening of the country's accession talks.

Today, Van Rompuy also held talks with President Gjorge Ivanov. The visit to Macedonia is part of his Balkan tour that also includes Montenegro, Bosnia/Herzegovina and Albania.


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