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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

Zaev-Avramova meeting: North Macedonia, Bulgaria boost economic cooperation and business ties

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Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Local Government Minister Goran Milevski on Tuesday hosted a high-level Bulgarian delegation led by Minister of Regional Development Petya Avramova.

At the meeting, PM Zaev said that two years after the signing of the Agreement on Good Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation, a significant progress has been made in terms of bilateral cooperation and strengthening the political dialogue.

“The Government of North Macedonia is committed to pursuing the road investment strategy and setting up a modern road network, investments in water supply systems, environmental protection projects, and providing better quality of life for the citizens,” PM Zaev said.

“The investments encourage economic development and co-operation with neighbors within  investments in fields spanning agriculture, mining industry and other sectors,” he added.

The prime minister expressed gratitude on Bulgaria’s strong support for North Macedonia’s NATO and EU entry bid.

At the meeting, the interlocutors reaffirmed the two countries’ commitment to driving forward the  projects of particular relevance, such as Corridor 8, as well as enhancing cross-border cooperation with support of EU funds.

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Macedonia

Janeva says she was summoned as witness and doesn’t feel guilt

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Katica Janeva, the outgoing SJO’s special prosecutor said on Tuesday she was summoned by organized crime prosecutor Vilma Ruskovska as a witness in ‘Racket’ case, adding that she feels no guilt.

The outgoing special prosecutor was questioned for four hours Tuesday as part of a probe into a high-profile racketeering case.

Exiting the Office Prosecuting Organized Crime and Corruption after the questioning in connection with extortion racket case, Janeva told the reporters that all dilemmas will be cleared in court.

“My phone was not formatted, and I don’t know if the investigation will be expanded. I don’t feel guilt. There will be a trial and you’ll have an opportunity to get updates,”Janeva told the reporters gathered outside the premises of law enforcement authority.

Asked by a reporter about Orce Kamcev’s whereabouts, Janeva said she didn’t know.

Janeva resigned as special prosecutor amid allegations of her involvement in a scheme to take kickbacks from a businessman charged by her office over corruption allegations. But, she remains in the post until a successor is appointed.

The scandal erupted in July when Bojan Jovanovski, informal owner of 1TV station, and his alleged accomplice, Zoran Milevski, were arrested on suspicion of extorting money from a  business owner Orce Kamcev in return for lighter sentence in another case. The two allegedly approached Kamcev and demanded that he pays an amount and he will be cleared of charges.

Katica Janeva is still the head of Special Prosecutor’s Office (SJO), which was set up in 2015 to investigate and prosecute criminal offences related to and arising from content of the illegally intercepted communication.

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Wait time at border crossings into Greece, Serbia up to 30 minutes

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Drivers encounter rising traffic jams while crossing the border into Greece at Bogorodica border checkpoint, and into Serbia at Tabanovce border checkpoint, AMSM said on Wednesday.

The estimated border wait times for entry into Greece and Kosovo – Bogorodica and Tabanovce – is 15 to 30 minutes.

Drivers, mainly holidaymakers, wait for up to 30 minutes to cross the border into Greece, although the frequency of outbound inspections decreased.

AMSM warns of heavy traffic jam over the weekend, in particular outbound congestions. Except for border into Greece and Serbia, there are no long queues at other border checkpoints.

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