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:

bosnian-croat-ex-military-chief-appeals-for-acquittal-03-22-2017
22 Mar 17

Bosnian Croat Ex-Military Chief Appeals for Acquittal

Slobodan Praljak, the former chief of the Croatian Defence Council’s Main Headquarters, appealed against his conviction for war crimes against Bosniaks in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1993 and 1994.

22 Mar 17

Vanished Mural Sparks Protests in Novi Sad

22 Mar 17

Belgrade Tween Conquers World of Music

22 Mar 17

Montenegro Broadcaster Names New Chief

22 Mar 17

Europe is not Going to Solve Balkan Dramas

Premium Selection

bosnian-authorities-ignore-us-warnings-on-crime-03-22-2017
22 Mar 17

Bosnian Authorities Ignore US Warnings on Crime

The Bosnian authorities are dismissing or failing to take serious notice of US government reports warning that the country is vulnerable to corruption, organized crime or even terrorism.

vanished-mural-sparks-protests-in-novi-sad-03-22-2017
22 Mar 17

Vanished Mural Sparks Protests in Novi Sad

Artist Guillaume Alby aka Remed says Serbia’s authorities are trying to ‘keep people blind’ after his striking mural in the city of Novi Sad was suddenly painted over.

22 Mar 17

Belgrade Tween Conquers World of Music