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Latvia endorses North Macedonia’s NATO accession protocol

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Latvian parliament on Thursday approved a law on ratification of North Macedonia’s accession to NATO, the North Macedonia’s ruling SDSM party said in a press release, adding that Latvia is the 13th NATO member to have greenlighted the country’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The ruling Social Democrats (SDSM) said on Friday that Estonian Government has endorsed the protocol, paving the way for North Macedonia’s membership into the alliance. Estonian parliament is expected to ratify the protocol soon, making it 14th NATO member to endorse the document.

The Social Democrats say the process of ratification of the Accession Protocol is advancing at a good pace. Once the process is completed, North Macedonia will become become NATO’s 30th member state.

“The perennial dream to join the most powerful alliance in the world is becoming true. NATO membership provides security and stability, foreign investments, economic growth and development. We remain fully committed to fulfilling our strategic interests in terms of securing safe and bright future for all citizens,” SDSM said in a press release.

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Macedonia

Seven EU states vote against starting entry talks with North Macedonia

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According to unofficial sources, seven member-states of the European Union voted against opening accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania yesterday at the General Affairs Council meeting in Luxembourg.

VMRO-DPMNE’s Member of Parliament (MP) Antonijo Milososki wrote on Twitter that France, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Luxembourg, Belgium and Spain were not being supportive of setting a date for start of accession talks with the two Balkan countries.

“12 member states – Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Estonia, Lithuania – backed the European Commission recommendation for opening accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. The rest, including Greece, abstained from vote,” Milososki tweeted.

The General Affairs Council on Tuesday discussed the possible accession of North Macedonia and Albania to the EU. But the Council finally decided to postpone the decision of opening talks no later than October.

The final statement agreed by the EU foreign ministers at the meeting yesterday praise North Macedonia’s progress but fell short of making any promises.

“Reaffirming its conclusions of 26 June 2018, the Council strongly welcomes the historic and unprecedented Prespa Agreement, as well as the Treaty on Good Neighbourly Relations with Bulgaria, and takes good note of the Commission’s recommendation to open accession negotiations with the Republic of North Macedonia based on its positive evaluation of the progress made and of the fulfillment of the conditions identified by the Council. In light of the limited time available and the importance of the matter, the Council will revert to the issue with a view to reaching a clear and substantive decision as soon as possible and no later than October 2019,” the Council conclusions say.

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OSCE Chairperson-in-Office arrives in North Macedonia for two-day visit

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OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Slovak Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Miroslav Lajcak has arrived in North Macedonia for a two day official visit, June 18-19.

He is scheduled to meet with President Stevo Pendarovski, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, Deputy Prime Minister Bujar Osmani, and Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov. He will also meet VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski.

The OSCE Chairperson will meet with representatives of the NGO sector and visit the Institution for Rehabilitation of Children and Young People where he will have an opportunity to talk to children who participated in the OSCE Mission’s Building Bridges project,” says OSCE.

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EU Council fails to set date for start of entry talks with North Macedonia

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The EU ministerial meeting ended up with no EU accession ticket for North Macedonia and Albania as ministers failed to agree on setting a date for start of accession negotiations with the two Balkan countries. They agreed, however, to take a decision by October at latest.

EU ministers who met at the General Affairs Council on Tuesday, June 18, in Luxembourg, discussed the possible accession of North Macedonia and Albania to the EU. But they finally decided to postpone the decision of opening talks no later than October, dealing a blow to both countries’ EU accession hopes.

The final statement agreed by the EU foreign ministers at the meeting yesterday praise the progress North Macedonia has made thus far but fell short of making any promises.

“Reaffirming its conclusions of 26 June 2018, the Council strongly welcomes the historic and unprecedented Prespa Agreement, as well as the Treaty on Good Neighbourly Relations with Bulgaria, and takes good note of the Commission’s recommendation to open accession negotiations with the Republic of North Macedonia based on its positive evaluation of the progress made and of the fulfillment of the conditions identified by the Council. In light of the limited time available and the importance of the matter, the Council will revert to the issue with a view to reaching a clear and substantive decision as soon as possible and no later than October 2019,” the Council conclusions say.

North Macedonia and Albania  had hoped that European ministers would give them the go-ahead at this meeting, in line with the European Commission’s recommendation issued on 29 May. A positive decision would have opened the way for EU accession talks to be formally approved during a summit of EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday.

North Macedonia made a giant leap towards EU accession when it resolved a 27-year-long dispute with Greece over its name. The Prespa agreement, signed in June 2018, opened the way for NATO and EU membership talks, which until then had been blocked by Greece.

Noting that the Council meeting took place on the first anniversary of the Prespa agreement, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the time had come for the EU to deliver on North Macedonia’s accession hopes. But the final statement agreed by the General Affairs Council fell short of making any promises.

“The Council strongly welcomes the historic Prespa Agreement, which represents a significant achievement, setting a positive example for the region and beyond. It commends the courage and determination of the parties involved,” the Council conclusions say.

The Treaty on Good Neighbourly Relations with Bulgaria, signed by Skopje before the Prespa agreement, was also welcomed by the Council.

The Council will take the decision about EU accession by October. At the end of the day, the Council meeting only served to entrench divisions among EU member states about the bloc’s enlargement to Western Balkan countries.

Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn told a press conference that a few GAC member-states did not support the clear recommendation by the European Commission on setting a date for stat of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania.

“The General Affairs Council especially welcomed that Council conclusions highlight  ‘historic and  unprecedent Prespa agreement’ which shows the transformative power of the EU perspective. All MS acknowledged this extraordinary achievement and I trust that there will be a positive decision in autumn,” Commissioner Hahn tweeted.

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