EU welcomes Skopje’s reform progress
By Lénaïc Vaudin d’Imécourt | Tuesday 24 July 2012
EU officials welcome the recent progress made by the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), particularly since the launch of the high-level accession dialogue in March. However, progress is still needed in a certain number of areas identified by the dialogue participants.
Following the ninth meeting of the Stabilisation and Association Council with the FYROM, on 24 July, the EU – represented by Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Füle and Cyrpus Minister of Foreign Affairs Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis – reviewed the key developments since the previous such meeting in January related to the fulfilment of the political and economic criteria and the country’s state of play concerning alignment with the EU
acquis, as well as the implementation of the stabilisation and association agreement (SAA) that was finalised in 2001.
The Council recalled the Commission’s 2009 proposal to move towards the second and final stage of the SAA and confirmed that it was currently considering said proposal. The 2001 SAA was expected to be fully realised over a transitional period of a maximum of ten years, divided into two successive stages, in order to implement progressively the provisions of the accord.
While the Stabilisation and Association Council discussed a range of issues, from democracy and rule of law to the situation of the Roma community and freedom of expression of the media, the long-standing ‘name issue’ between the FYROM – EU candidate since 2005 – and Greece was not mentioned, despite the fact that it has been blocking the country’s EU accession negotiations for several years. Nikola Poposki, FYROM’s foreign affairs minister, expressed his hope that the negotiations will open in the next six months. “Accession negotiations have always provided the best framework for settling bilateral issues,” he argued, citing the example of Serbia and Kosovo.