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Barroso expects positive EC report on Macedonia and name issue settlement

28. October 2010. | 10:46

Source: MIA

European Commission (EC)President Jose Manuel Barroso after meeting Wednesday with Macedonian Premier Nikola Gruevski in Brussels said he expected FYRMacedonia once again in 2010 to receive a positive report and a solution to the name issue to be found.

European Commission (EC)President Jose Manuel Barroso after meeting Wednesday with Macedonian Premier Nikola Gruevski in Brussels said he expected FYRMacedonia once again in 2010 to receive a positive report and a solution to the name issue to be found.

"Last year EC recommended start of membership talks and visa liberalisation. It was a clear acknowledgement of implemented reforms and encouragement for the name row to be settled. The time has come and the country mustn't miss this historic chance. Identity issues are nevertheless significant, but it is more important the future not to be held hostage by the past. I urge both parties to overcome this hurdle as quickly as possible. I hope this will happen and the name issue will be solved. It is crucial for your country, the region and for all of us in Europe, stated Barroso at a joint press conference with PM Gruevski.

He said the meeting ahead of the EC report on Macedonia's progress - to be unveiled on Nov. 9 - was "useful". Barroso told Gruevski that the dynamics of reforms must be maintained urging a consensus with all relevant political parties to be created. Moreover, the EC President urged the visa liberalisation not to be abused. "It must be clear that the visa-free regime doesn't provide opportunities to work in EU", he stressed.

"The region has made a notable headway - Croatia is about to complete the accession talks, there is progress with Kosovo and Serbia and we would like to see progress also in terms of the name issue between Macedonia and Greece. You can count on EC and hopefully we will witness very important decisions in the near future", EC President Barroso said.

When asked whether EC would endorse another recommendation for start of accession talks in the November report, Barroso responded that the decision was to be announced on Nov. 9. "But today in EC there was a useful debate on EU enlargement and I anticipate that the report on Macedonia's progress will be positive even though it is being considered that not all reforms are equally implemented", he said.

Asked whether the European Union should exert more pressure in the name talks between Macedonia and Greece, Barroso said: "I constantly call on all parties involved in the name issue. Today I urged the parties to settle the dispute because it is of essential importance not only for your country, but also for the region and EU, for all of us who believe in the future of the enlargement process. Therefore, on my personal behalf and official capacity I encourage involved parties to come to a solution. But I still think that it is not useful in this stage many statements to be made".

PM Gruevski said he expected EC and Belgium's EU presidency to help in reaching a decision and setting a date for start of membership talks with Macedonia at forthcoming meetings in the EU due to their commitment in applying an active enlargement policy based on individual credits made by every candidate country.

"I told him that the Government is focused on effective implementation of reforms and country's modernization in an attempt to raise the level of application of EU standards in Macedonia's society and on making utmost efforts to resolve the bilateral dispute with Greece under UN auspices", stated Gruevski.

In terms of reforms, the PM said Macedonia was giving results in many key areas including state administration, judiciary, fight against corruption and organised crime, the Ohrid Framework Accord, application of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, economy and in harmonising Macedonian legislation with EU's, urging that the reform momentum would be maintained.

"I hope that EC will make an objective assessment of Macedonia's reforms in the upcoming progress report. The EC report will serve as a guideline for the Government and state institutions in meeting the Copenhagen membership criteria", Gruevski stated.

He appealed Macedonia's EU integration to be considered in a broader context, because "EU integration is a strong cohesive factor in Macedonia's multi-ethnic, multi-language and multi-religious society". "Launch of EU entry talks will push reforms further in the country and will positively affect region's stability", PM Gruevski noted.

Speaking about the differences with Greece involving the name, Gruevski said Macedonia was fully committed in finding a prompt solution.

"We are being actively engaged in the UN-brokered name talks. Macedonia's approach is still proactive and constructive - ideas are constantly being presented for overcoming the name differences and finding a mutually acceptable solution, for which the citizens of Macedonia will voice their opinion at a referendum", Gruevski stated.

The PM at a joint press conference expressed gratitude to Barroso, EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule and all EC services for their contribution in Macedonia's EU integration process. He invited Barroso to visit Macedonia, which would be seen as a signal of support for country's integration to EU and message for resumption of the EU enlargement process in securing peace, security and stability in Europe.

Gruevski and Barroso also exchanged views on regional issues, FYRMacedonia's role on the Balkans in strengthening neighbourly ties and regional security


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