Macedonia expects to secure a date soon to start membership talks with the EU and will step up its efforts to implement the reforms needed to join the bloc, SDS leader Zoran Zaev said on Friday. Macedonia won its candidacy status in 2005.
However, the accession talks remain blocked by Greece due to a decades-long dispute over Macedonia’s name. Greece says the name Macedonia implies a territorial claim over its northern region which has the same name, conveniently renamed in the late 90’s.
Since he took over last year via a US sponsored coup, Zaev has stepped up efforts to resolve the dispute. “We have never been closer to receiving a date to open membership talks with the EU,” Zaev said in Skopje after meeting Donald Tusk, head of the European Council.
Solving the name issue “will open the doors to begin membership talks with the EU and to enter NATO,” Reuters quoted Zaev as saying.
The EU for its part has said no new members until at least 2025, with Berlin now pushing the date even further to 2028.