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Zaev: No EU country opposes opening accession talks with North Macedonia

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No EU member-states stays away from starting membership talks with North Macedonia, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said on Wednesday, when asked by a reporter to tell which country was reluctant to starting accession negotiations date at the General Affairs Council (GAC) meeting yesterday.

“In the past, there were countries against, and the GAC did not adopt such conclusions. There is no country against. I note that no country had opposed the European Commission recommendation for start of accession negotiations, Zaev said.

He called upon the citizens to rejoice over the historic decision for our country. EU  membership negotiations would have stated in June if it wasn’t for the European parliament elections.

VMRO-DPMNE’s MP Antonijo Milososki wrote on Twitter earlier today that France, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Luxembourg, Belgium and Spain were not supportive and voted against setting a date for start of accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia.

“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. The rest, including Greece, abstained from vote,” Milososki tweeted.

The conclusions agreed at the gathering said that “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.”

“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.

But Enlargement Negotiations Commissioner Johannes Hahn said after the Luxembourg meeting that “a minority of member states were not able to support the commission’s clear proposal to open accession negotiations with Albania and with North Macedonia already today,” calling the delay “unfortunate.”

Last month, the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, recommended that accession talks with the two Balkan states begin as soon as possible, saying the two countries have “delivered on reforms.”

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Macedonia

Dimitriev: SDSM is blocking security sector reform

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SDSM had once again demonstrated its hypocrisy and irresponsible behavior, especially when it comes to crucial areas of state functioning, VMRO-DPMNE’s legislator Emil Dimitriev said on Tuesday.

Dimitriev said lengthy meetings between MPs of VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM ended up with a consensus on amendments to the Law on Interception of Communication, “amendments that would definitely unblock the parliamentary oversight of security and intelligence agencies, with reference to the use of special investigative measures”.

“Over the past year, SDSM and Parliament’s leadership did not allow the Committee for Oversight of the Communication Interception to initiate a procedure for selection of technical experts to support the work of the Committee,” Dimitriev said.

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Macedonia

PES European Affairs Ministers support pre-accession talks with N. Macedonia and Albania

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Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov on Tuesday attended a meeting of EU ministers from the Party of European Socialists (PES).

The meeting, which took place in Luxembourg shortly before the start of the General Affairs Council (GAC) meeting, was chaired by German State Minister for Europe Michael Roth.

At the meeting, the PES European Affairs Ministers pledged support for pre-accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia.

The members of the General Affairs Council from the PES welcomed at the meeting the acting foreign minister of Albania Gent Cakaj and the foreign affairs minister of North Macedonia – Nikola Dimitrov.

The European Ministers from the Party of European Socialists urged the immediate start of EU membership talks with Albania and North Macedonia, at their meeting today in Luxembourg.

The Chair of the meeting, German Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth said: “The EU is a great role model and it has enormous influence over its neighbours. We must keep exerting that positive influence by opening the door to pre-accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia.”

“Both countries have strengthened their democracies and stepped up necessary efforts of modernisation under their current progressive leaderships. We must encourage them to keep following that path, and promote stability and prosperity in the region. That’s why we need to send the right signals,” Roth said.

“The EU’s soft power should be used to support pro-European forces everywhere in Europe, especially in the Western Balkans, our immediate neighbourhood. This is in the EU’s best interest”, Michael Roth added. 

The PES ministers reiterated that by delaying again the start of the accession process for Albania and North Macedonia, the EU would leave a strategic vacuum that might be filled by other players.

In June 2018, the EU held out the prospect of the two countries being invited to start membership talks and the European Commission declared in May this year that both had made the necessary progress on democratic standards and the rule of law.

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Pendarovski to EU: Give us a chance to show we are ready

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Macedonian President Stevo Pendarovski, in an interview with Austrian Die Presse daily, called on the EU states to start discussions on the accession of North Macedonia as soon as possible.

Asked by Die Presse to tell whether his country still hopes to receive a signal from the EU for start of accession talks given the very negative statement made by France recently, Pendarovski warned EU will lose much of its credibility if accession negotiations are further delayed.

“We do not hope for a signal, we are expecting a decision. Over the past year and a half, we have delivered everything we should. We even changed our name after the historic agreement with Greece. So far, no candidate country has done so. If the EU says the approximation process is based on performance, then we do not expect more or less than be assessed by what we have achieved,” Pendarovski told Die Presse.

“My message is: Give us a chance and let us show that we are ready.”

If the accession negotiations are delayed further, the EU will lose much of its credibility, and EU-enthusiasm will drop dramatically, he added.

“Citizens asked us why we need to change the name of our country. We told them – so that we could join the EU. We have fulfilled everything. Now the citizens wonder why the delay”, Pendarovski said.

Speaking about migrants, Pendarovski said no increase in the number of migrants from Turkey had been observed in North Macedonia. “So far, we haven’t noticed a significant increase in the number of migrants.”

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