Thursday, July 19, 2007

EU lawmakers to vote on Macedonia report

European Parliament will vote Thursday on the report on Macedonia's progress toward EU membership, a day after the lawmakers gave their opinion on the issue.

"The progress toward EU is in the hands of political leaders in the country. I believe that the Government and the Parliament will take into consideration the recommendations in the European Commission's report," the EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn told the MEPs during the debate.

He called on the government and all political parties in Macedonia to focus on continuation of reforms instead of focusing on the starting date of EU accession talks.

"Dialogue is basis for achieving stability and functioning of institutions," Commissioner Rehn said, adding that Brussels expects full implementation of political dialogue between VMRO-DPMNE and DUI.

He pointed out that despite the last year's slowed down progress, the country can return this year to the reform-determined track.

Commissioner Rehn also called for a constructive approach to mutually acceptable solution to name issue between Macedonia and Greece under the UN auspices.

The debate was attended by members of the Macedonian delegation, 10 MEPs, including the Rapporteur on Macedonia, Dutch MEP Erik Meijer, Greeks MEPs, Green Party MEPs and Socialists' MEPs.

Rapporteur Meijer gave historical remarks regarding the name issue, noting that both sides should reach a compromise to face the different stands. Otherwise, it will be impossible that Macedonia be treated fairly in the process of integration into the EU.

Meier also said that it is necessary that the country removes "all symbols, maps and provocations". He also mentioned that Macedonia undergoes serious problems in terms of environmental pollution, corruption, judiciary problems that are still not solved.

"It is not clear yet about the state's role in the El-Masri case," Meijer said.

MEP Doris Pack called for accelerated implementation of the Ohrid Framework Agreement, reforms in judiciary, police, economy, and the fight against corruption and organized crime. "A lot of work needs to be done," Pack said, adding that Macedonia must wrap up these urgent tasks.

The three Greek MEPs Giorgos Karadzaferiss, Panayotis Beglitis and Giorgos Dimitrakopoulos focused on name dispute, insisting that the matter is not a bilateral issue only.

The other lawmakers, on the other hand, made it clear that the name should not hinder the negotiations between Macedonia and EU.

The European Parliament today will vote on the report on Macedonia's progress in 2006. The European Commission is to release its Macedonia progress report on 7 November, which holds the key to EU decision to launch accession talks with Macedonia.

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