news 04 Jun 13

Macedonia and Serbia Agree to Collaborate on EU

At the first joint session of the Macedonian and Serbian governments, the two prime ministers agreed to work together on the path to EU membership.

BIRN
Belgrade, Skopje
Nikola Gruevski and Ivica Dacic, Photo by Beta

At the meeting in Belgrade, Serbia, the Macedonian and Serbian Prime Ministers, Nikola Gruevski and Ivica Dacic, said their two countries had met all the necessary criteria to get start dates for EU accession talks at the EU summit on June 28.

"We want to collaborate on the road to the EU," Dacic told a press conference after the first joint government session of the two countries on Monday.

Gruevski said the two former Yugoslav republics were fully committed to the process of reconciliation and to closing all remaining open issues in the region from the past.

"Successful regional cooperation, manifested through the activities of international initiatives, is further confirmation of the Europeanization of Macedonia and Serbia," Gruevski said.

The Macedonian leader added that they had defined fresh initiatives in the interest of the citizens of both countries. With that in mind, the two sides signed agreements to cooperate in the fields of police, health and science.

Macedonia obtained EU candidate status back in December 2005 but has never been offered a date for membership talks owing to a Greek blockade related to the dispute over its name.

Serbia obtained EU candidate status in March 2012. In April the European Commission recommended that negotiations on EU accession be opened with Serbia.

The absence of ethnic Albanian ministers from the Macedonian government, who belong to the junior ruling party, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, cast a shadow over the session in Belgrade.

The Macedonian government insisted that the absence of DUI ministers was “not intentional”.

It said that the Environment Minister, Abdulakim Ademi, an ethnic Albanian, sent his deputy, Stevo Temelkovski, an ethnic Macedonian, because he was “too busy to attend himself”.

However, the DUI is known to view close ties to Serbia with suspicion.

An earlier idea for a joint government session, agreed between Gruevski and the then Serbian Prime Minister, Mirko Cvetkovkic, foundered in 2011 when the DUI condemned the idea.

The DUI said a joint meeting would be seen as a provocation by Macedonian Albanians who make up a quarter of the country's population and have close ties to their ethnic kin in neighbouring Kosovo.

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