The Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia, in charge of European Affairs, Fatmir Besimi, today paid a working visit to Brussels where he met the ambassadors of the European Union Member States, the Director of the Directorate for Enlargement, Christian Danielsson and the Executive Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS), Pierre Vimont.
At these meetings, Besimi repeated the Macedonian commitment to the Euro-Atlantic integration as a strategic priority of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia; however the interlocutors made it clear that at this point there is no consensus in the Union for our country to receive a date for membership negotiations at the Summit of the European Council which will be held on 19th this month.
“We do not want to create unreal expectations regarding whether Macedonia will receive a date from the European Council at the forthcoming Summit. In reality, this is a case which still lacks a solution for the name issue with Greece and there is still unresolved issue with Bulgaria; in this kind of situation, there is not a consensus by all the Union Member States for receiving a date for negotiations,” said Besimi for MIA.
According to the Macedonian Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs, what is important is that the conclusions are expected to contain dynamics for reform in the forthcoming period and the issue concerning the name and good neighbourly relations is expected to be part of the conclusions. It will mean that there is a political support to Macedonia in this process, in order progress to be shown, regardless the fact that there are no mechanisms in the EU to be used for solving a dispute between one Member State and one country which is not a member.
“This is a political support and a window for the European Commission to engage more in the name issue and in the unresolved issues with the neighbours. Actually, we think that the international community should be involved, i.e. the EU Member States or the European institutions somehow should lend a hand in the process; they need not solve it, because we alone should find a solution for the problem with Greece; however, they should help and it is important that they get involved in this process. There are successful examples in the region, where third parties have been included in bilateral disputes and they have solved them, as in the case of Slovenia and Croatia, and Serbia and Kosovo. Those models should be used as well in the example of the Republic of Macedonia, so that we are able to demonstrate progress,” added Besimi.
Regarding his visit to Brussels, Besimi does not hide that it coincides with the period when conclusions are being prepared for the European Council Summit in December, concerning the enlargement of the European Union, which involves the Republic of Macedonia as well. He says that it is important that this period is used for discussions regarding the contents, although the conclusions document is prepared by the Member States; however, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Government notes that in a friendly and open manner he discussed with the ambassadors of the EU Member States about what our country expects to find in the conclusions and what will be of great use in the upcoming period.
“It is important that this year Macedonia holds a clear recommendation from the European Commission for start of accession negotiations. The conclusions must note the dynamics of realisation of the process in the upcoming period. It refers to the High Level Accession Dialogue (HLAD) and the priority areas that will be covered in the upcoming period and a certain dynamics for realisation of those activities. The European Commission will report all this issues, and it will be part of the discussion of the Council of the European Union for the following year. This is true both for the reform agenda, as well as for the good neighbourly relations with Greece and Bulgaria,” noted Besimi.
The Deputy Prime Minister says that in continuation with the overall activities of the Government, in this period he visited more institutions and held meetings at which he presented what the Republic of Macedonia had done in the period between the Commission Report and the European Council Summit, with the aim of strengthening the arguments for start of negotiations. He informed about the reforms of the Electoral Code, which, according to Besimi, should be adopted in our country with a consensual approach of the political parties, and within the OSCE recommendations.
“Regarding the dialogue with the journalists, we indicated the efforts that we make in that direction and also in the direction of freedom of expression. And regarding the implementation of the recommendations from the March Agreement from these meetings, the expectations are that in these areas Macedonia should make progress. Furthermore, our country is expected to continue to invest in strengthening the inter-ethnic relations in Macedonia as a stability and development pillar of the country,” added the Deputy Prime Minister of the Macedonian Government.
At today’s meeting with the Director of the Directorate for Enlargement of the EU, Danielsson, Besimi enacted a question for the position of Macedonia that the country should enter the Union project regarding the Adriatic-Ionian Programme for Regional Development, in which only Macedonia is not included. He says that there are exceptions when Macedonia should be part of the programmes because that will help for the economic growth of the country, and will affect positively the economic development of the region.
“The main message that we would like to send during this visit is that for Macedonia, the Euro-Atlantic perspective is the best alternative and the country does not have any dilemmas regarding the European perspective, thus the engagement, in relation to the Union, remains a strong one in the country and the citizens expect the same as well. Regardless of the outcome whether Macedonia is given a date for negotiations or not by the Council, it is important that we engage for the reforms and those are our commitments, since the existing mechanisms, such as the High Level Accession Dialogue, which is not a substitute for the official dialogue, is still one mechanism we use to work more intensively on the reforms; in that way, the duration of the negotiations will be shortened and Macedonia, through HLAD, will be able to demonstrate reforms, which is important for the country,” noted the Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs.
Besimi confirmed that the European Union is a clearly defined strategic objective, not only as a political statement, but as a strategic determination as well, with the support of the majority of the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia. He states that the Macedonian Government will work on the reforms with intensified agenda, which will be determined together with the European Commission after the Council’s Summit.
“We remain open as well for finding a solution to the unresolved issues with our neighbours. These are the three messages I sent here and after the meetings we are able to summarise that, in the context of the Republic of Macedonia, the Euro-Atlantic perspective is a topic that brings all the citizens of the country closer to one another and unites them, regardless of their ethnic and religious affiliation. A topic that puts them on the same side all the countries from the region as well, and thus it is important for Macedonia, for the region and for the EU as well, all this to end successfully,” ends Besimi.
The visit of the Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia today coincides with the tonight’s meeting of the ambassadors of the EU Member States in the, so called, COREPER group, which will prepare the last draft conclusion regarding our country, and which will be decided upon by the ministers of foreign affairs of the EU Member States on Tuesday, within the general Affairs Council (GAC), when it will be definite what the European Council will conclude in relation to Macedonia.