Monday, 29 November 2021 | News today: 0

European Parliament: Macedonia to open EU accession negotiations

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European Parliament supported opening of accession negotiations with Macedonia, for a ninth time in a row. Representatives gathered in Strasbourg adopted the resolution proposed by Slovenian member of European Parliament Ivo Vajgl.

The resolution says that the name of Macedonia shouldn’t be an issue that would prevent opening of negotiations, and is a bilateral issue between Macedonia and Greece. Greece has blocked opening of negotiations for years, demanding that Macedonia must change its name first. Instead, the resolution encourages Macedonia to establish joint expert committees with its neighbors on history and education, with the aim of contributing to an objective interpretation of history, strengthening academic cooperation, and promoting positive attitudes in young people towards their neighbors.

Greek members of Parliament were visibly irritated during the Tuesday debate as number of their colleagues used Macedonia freely in their discussions. All Greek representatives, from the Communist, neo­-Nazi parties, and the center, were insisting that the name issue is an international problem, and not just something that should be resolved between the two countries.

The final text of the resolution rejects all amendments sent by Greek SYRIZA party, and also erased a comment that condemned Macedonia for not basing its history on facts, which is a common accusation from Greek nationalists. The resolution calls for efforts to promote reconciliation between Macedonians and different ethnic groups, including the ethnic Bulgarians.

The resolution also expresses concern at the worsening of relations between the Government and the opposition SDSM party, particularly with regard to the recent announcement of charges against the opposition leader and also to the counter-­accusations of criminal wrongdoing and wiretapping. The resolution condemns all illegal surveillance, and calls for all allegations to be published and freely reported; calls for an independent investigation into all allegations and the surveillance carried out, on a basis of full respect for the principles of transparency, impartiality and the presumption of innocence.

MEPs are concerned at the polarized domestic climate, urging the government to respect the role of the parliament by providing sufficient scope and time for consultations, including on constitutional changes, in the interest of enabling full, independent parliamentary control.

“Compromises are fundamental for a functioning democracy. Post-­election boycott is a problem that needs to be solved in a spirit of shared responsibility between government and opposition with regard to the correct functioning of the parliament”, reads the resolution, inviting EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to engage with all parties in order to facilitate political dialogue. Members of European Parliament are also expected to join in the efforts to bring the to largest parties in Macedonia closer.

Commissioner Johannes Hahn and Zanda Kalnina-­Lukasevica from the European Presidency joined the debate on Tuesday evening to insist on the need for inclusive political dialogue and ask both the Government and the opposition to show political responsibility and enter into dialogue to solve open issues and push forward reforms necessary for further integration.

“We count on the support from the European Parliament to call on all leaders in Macedonia to take steps and actions to solve the issues. Speaking on the current situation, the European Union expressed some concern. These are allegations that need to be part of an independent investigation. The Council was also clear regarding the date for negotiations, it will refer to this issue later, based on information from the Commission for progress on the reforms, which also includes the High level accession dialogue and the promotion of good neighborly relations and the talks for a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue”, Kalnina- Lukasevica said in the Parliament.

The resolution adopted by the Parliament further commends Macedonia for its fight against corruption and the economic reforms showing growth and decrease in unemployment. Criticism is reserved for media freedoms and dependence of media outlets from state budget advertising.