Home Page
 
News 17 Sep 12

Fuele Visits Skopje to Judge Macedonian Reforms

European Enlargement Commissioner on Monday arrives for a third round of “high-level” talks with the government on a reform process intended to complement future accession negotiations.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje
European Enlargement Commissioner, Stefan Fuele

Stefan Fuele’s visit to Skopje comes just before the European Commission in October is to publish its annual report on the country’s progress on its road to EU membership.

His impressions from the talks are expected to give the final note to the report, which is expected to be positive in its overall tone.

Fuele’s spokesperson, Peter Steno, said that the Commissioner would like to see "more activities for further strengthening inter-ethnic relations and full implementation of the [2001] Ohrid [peace] accord".

He added that freedom of speech needed strengthening through decriminalization of libel and changes to the electoral framework.

Fuele will meet Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski as well as the Vice Prime Minister in charge of European Affairs, Teuta Arifi. He is also set to meet the main political party leaders.

At the talks, Arifi will present the results of the country’s reform action plan.

The plan, presented in May, during the previous round of talks in Skopje, envisaged about 150 reforms and legal changes in the five fields that Brussels last time identified as weak points.

Arifi then offered a deadline of September for Macedonia to implement the plan, which envisages strengthening the rule of law and freedom of speech and reforms to the public administration, election legislation and the market economy.

Ahead of the talks, Arifi sounded optimistic, maintaining that most of the envisaged reforms had been undertaken.

“These are reforms in very sensitive areas, covering areas that are of key significance for democracy, so it was important for us to stick to the agenda,” Arifi said.

EU officials have stressed that the Brussels-Skopje dialogue is not intended to bypass Greece's blockade of the country’s EU membership talks.

The idea is to keep the momentum for reform going until the diplomatic problem with Greece is resolved.

Macedonia gained EU candidate country status back in 2005, and for three years in a row since 2009 the European Commission has recommended a start to accession talks.

But the EU has not offered an actual start date for the talks owing to the Greek blockade, related to the dispute over Macedonia’s name.

Greece insists that Macedonia’s name implies territorial claims to its own northern province, also called Macedonia. Both countries are engaged in long-standing talks in the UN to resolve the issue but these have not led to a breakthrough.

There has been speculation in the Macedonian media that this time Brussels may extend a start date for EU membership talks, but Fuele’s office refrained from comment.

Talk about it!

blog comments powered by Disqus

Related Headlines:

the-power-of-time-07-20-2017
20 Jul 17

The Power of Time

In a region with such a tumultuous history as the Balkans, sudden developments are common, but as this week’s roundup from our Premium articles shows, some current situations and recent events have been years in the making.

20 Jul 17

Serbia in Two Minds Over New IMF Deal

20 Jul 17

Macedonia Moves to Make Smokers' Lives Easier

Premium Selection

serbia-in-two-minds-over-new-imf-deal-07-17-2017
20 Jul 17

Serbia in Two Minds Over New IMF Deal

With the economy in relatively good shape, a question mark hangs over whether Serbia needs a fresh arrangement with the Fund.

kosovo-war-court-president-promises-impartial-justice-07-19-2017
20 Jul 17

Kosovo War Court President Promises Impartial Justice

The president of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, Ekaterina Trendafilova, told BIRN the new court has no ethnic bias, will protect its witnesses from intimidation and deliver justice impartially and independently.

19 Jul 17

New Migrants Face Old Terrors on Balkan Route