Delivering results regarding the Urgent Reform Priorities that the European Commission has produced is the key for getting a positive recommendation on Macedonia’s start of the EU accession talks, said Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy & Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn at Wednesday’s press conference ahead of his meeting with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.
“They have to focus on the implementation of the Urgent Reform Priorities. I can announce that Mr.Priebe who originally set up, together with a team of people, the so-called Priebe Report, which was the baseline for all of this, will pay a visit to Skopje in July to restart these activities and initiatives. I am saying this because the first significant and sustainable step towards implementation of the Urgent Reform Priorities is key for getting a positive recommendation. I have always said that only the elections and the formation of the government is not enough to get this recommendation. We would like to see certain reform efforts and this can start now and continue to autumn and then we can have an assessment”, said Hahn.
Regarding reports over Macedonia’s NATO accession under interim reference “FYROM” and a similar path for the opening of the EU accession negotiations, the Commissioner said it was still early days.
“I can assure you that we will do everything so that this issue is addressed in a way that we indeed find a solution enabling us to start negotiations, provided that Skopje is making the necessary progress, which is important to get a positive recommendation on our side. The European Union should have learned its lesson and we will find a solution, at least to start negotiations. Finally, the responsibility lies with the responsible people in the country, but if the political framework or climate was not conducive towards opening of negotiations, this was certainly not helpful for stabilizing the country and keeping it on this kind of track it has already been on for ten years and more ago. Some of you might remember, 10-12 years ago FYROM was ‘the best pupil in the class’ in the region, and today this is definitely not the case. The fact there was a lack of concrete perspective has influenced the situation inside the country and this is the point I have raised. Neighbors should have an interest to contribute, in the interest of their own stability, and inclusion of this country in the EU in the future”, stressed Hahn.
The Commissioner was also quizzed about the obstacles to Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic integration put by Bulgaria, besides the hindrance from Greece.
“Concerning the good neighborly relations, I know there is a good personal relationship between the two PMs Borisov and Zaev and I hope this also pays off. I know there have been first contacts between the newly-elected prime ministers. All member-states have understood that the fact they have not been able to agree on the opening of the accession negotiations in the past 8-9 years has led to the developments we have faced in the last 1-2 years and I therefore hope there is a change in the thinking. It is on us, the Europeans, to deliver, provided colleagues and friends in Skopje deliver too”, Hahn concluded.
Earlier, Hahn said in a press statement that Macedonia has finally overcome, with the continuous support of the EU, the political crisis with fair elections and the formation of the new government and they are now returning to daily political routine.
“I will discuss this with Prim Minister Zaev today and now it is about implementation of the Urgent Reform Priorities”, said Hahn while delivering a debrief on latest developments in the Western Balkans.
PM Zaev is also scheduled to meet with European Council President Donald Tusk, European foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.