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Joint parliamentary committee calls on European Council to set a date for a start to Macedonia's accession talks by the end of this year, notwithstanding Greek objections.
After a meeting in Brussels in Tuesday, the committee called on the European Council to end the three-year stalemate over Macedonia's EU accession, imposed by Greece.
For the third consecutive year, the European Commission last autumn urged a start to membership talks with Macedonia, a move that has been blocked by Athens in connection with the so-called name dispute.
Greece insists that use of the term "Macedonia" by its neighbour implies a territorial claim to its own northern province of the same name. Citing the unresolved issue, Greece has blocked Macedonia’s progress towards both the EU and NATO.
In its conclusions the committee also asked the Commission in future to respect Macedonia's identity and continue using the adjective “Macedonian” in its next annual progress report on the country.
Last year’s omission of this term prompted negative comments in Macedonia, where it was seen as an undue concession to Greece.
The committee also greeted the ruling of the International Court of Justice from December 5, 2011, which said that Greece's blockade on Macedonia joining NATO was illegal.
The ICJ ruled that Greece had breached an interim deal, brokered by the UN in 1995, when it blocked Macedonia’s attempt to join NATO at the Bucharest summit in 2008.
“This is a great success for us,” the Macedonian co-chair of the committee, Kenan Hasipi, said.
Although the committee can issue only recommendations, Hasipi insists that they matter.
“They are not in vain. They have their own weight and will enter into the European Parliament report on the country by MEP Richard Howitt as well as into the conclusions of the European Commission.”
The committee was established on the basis of the Stabilization and Association Agreement, SAA, between Skopje and Brussels.
Comprising Macedonian MPs and Members of the European Parliament, it is co-chaired by Hasipi and Jorgo Chatzimarkakis.
The committee meets twice a year in the Macedonian Parliament and in the European Parliament, tackling Euro-integration issues and mutual relations, sending recommendations on further activities to Macedonian and EU institutions.
NATO and US officials have put an end to Macedonia’s slim hopes that it may get anything more than warm words at the forthcoming NATO summit in Chicago in a few days.
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