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Dutch parliament greenlights opening EU accession talks with North Macedonia

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The Dutch parliament blocked the opening of EU accession negotiations with Albania, but it endorsed the launch of EU accession negotiations with North Macedonia

The EU summit later this month will decide whether to open negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. All decisions concerning the EU accession process are decided at the EU level with unanimity, which means that any member country can block the process. However, opening negotiations with Albania is unlikely after a large majority in the Dutch parliament prohibited such move by the government.

The Dutch parliament passed a motion Wednesday asking the government to block the opening of EU accession negotiations with Albania for 2019.

The motion against Albania’s EU entry bid was submitted by several MPs (Christian Democrats, Liberal-Conservatives, and Christian Union) whose parties are part of the governing coalition in the Netherlands. It got 105 votes in favor out of the 150 MPs of the Dutch Parliament, which is more than a two-third majority.

According to the Dutch government, Albania is not achieving tangible results in the fight against corruption and organized crime. Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said that the European Commission’s recommendation to open accession negotiations with Albania was premature. He added that Albania has not fulfilled the criteria on fight against organized crime and corruption.

The late Wednesday’s vote in the Dutch Parliament confirms the blocking of accession negotiations between EU and Albania. It comes several weeks after the parliament demanded the government to ask the European Commission to suspend the visa-free travel for Albanians in the Schengen area.

A second motion, asking the government to block the opening of EU accession negotiations with North Macedonia for 2019, failed to secure the needed backing. Majority of MPs voted to reject the motion.

The move is seen as a first step towards separating North Macedonia from the Albania-North Macedonia package in the decision-making process within the EU Council, if Netherlands asks the Council to adopt such approach during the June 18 summit in Luxembourg or the next summit in Brussels.

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Macedonia

Arrest warrant issued for Spasov

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Former special police officer Igor Spasov, who has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for murdering Martin Neskoski, is wanted on recall to prison after going missing.

Macedonian police issued an arrest warrant on Tuesday after he failed to show up to begin his sentence. The arrest warrant has been published on the web-site of the Ministry of Interior.

The former member of special police force vanished after ignoring summons to serve time after he was sentenced in prison on murder charges.

The man had probably fled justice to avoid serving a 14-year jail sentence for a murder conviction. He was to report to Idrizovo correctional facility on 18 October.

The murder took place during a late-night celebration of VMRO-DPMNE’s victory in 2011 parliamentary elections.

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Macedonia

Matthew Palmer due in Skopje today

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The US Secretary of State’s Special Representative for the Western Balkans, Matthew Palmer, will visit North Macedonia on Tuesday.

Special Representative Palmer is scheduled to meet with Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov, Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a press release.

The two are expected to discuss the bilateral relations between North Macedonia and the United States, including the US support for the country’s integration into the Euro-Atlantic community. They will exchange views on the situation in the country and the region.

In late August, the U.S. State Department appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary Palmer as special envoy for the Western Balkans with a mandate to help integrate the region into Western institutions.

US Secretary of State has appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew Palmer  as his Special Representative for the Western Balkans.  In this role, Palmer will lead our efforts to strengthen U.S. diplomatic engagement in support of peace, stability, and prosperity in the region and focus on integration of the Western Balkan countries into Western institutions.

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Macedonia

Zaev: We can give argument to reassure Macron

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We can give arguments to reassure President Macron that “methodology prior to enlargement” proposal could be converted into “enlargement along with change in methodology”, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev wrote on his Facebook page, alluding to France’s Emmanuel Macron’s initiative for new enlargement methodology.

“We are not only a strategic interest, we are Europe. It means we will become a member of the European Union once we wrap up the comprehensive reform at home. The pre-accession process and closure of chapters will help us make it happen. The accession negotiations will help us wrap up domestic reform,” Zaev wrote on his Facebook page.

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