Analysts: EU progress report propels Macedonia forward

29/04/2013

Latest report should motivate Macedonia to finish up EU reforms, analysts said.

By Aleksandar Pavlevski for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 29/04/13

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"The EU wants your country to succeed," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said. [AFP]

The latest progress report from the EU on Macedonia should fuel the country to finish up Union-required reforms and move forward on the path towards accession, analysts said.

The special EU progress report was unveiled on April 16th by EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Skopje. Macedonia's EU prospects are alive and doable, she said.

"The EU wants your country to succeed. But, as you know, EU integration begins at home," Ashton said.

The report said Macedonia has made progress in all areas despite the political crisis created by the country's opposition last December. It confirmed the European Commission recommendation to begin accession negotiations in its regular progress report in October 2012.

The country is implementing the high level accession dialogue-related reforms, maintains good neighbourly relations and has undertaken steps to improve bilateral relations with Bulgaria and Greece.

"Macedonia conducted many reforms and the results are evident as the report and Ashton's statements indicate. It is clear that the country is grabbing with both hands the opportunity to continue the reforms which coincide with the EU integration process," Ivica Bocevski, former deputy prime minister, told SETimes.

"Macedonia should be smart to work more in the direction charted by the EU through Ashton," Albert Musliu, director of the Albanian Democratic Initiative, told SETimes.

"Significant work has been completed and progress has been reached on important questions, but we agreed there is more to be done," EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule said last week in Skopje. "Regarding the implementation of the March 1st agreement, which solved the political crisis, the politicians created the crisis and have the responsibility to overcome it by implementing this agreement, which has not been done, at least not in full. Be responsible, this is your state."

Analysts agree that solving the name dispute with Greece has been forced upon Macedonia as a condition for EU membership,

"Macedonia has received several positive reports in a row in every field that the reports cover. Despite that, the alleged dispute about our name that Greece forced upon us remains the only obstacle to Macedonia's EU entry," Pavle Trajanov, former internal affairs minister and current MP in the Macedonian parliament, told SETimes.

In what is the latest in a string of proposed solutions, UN mediator Matthew Nimitz proposed last week that the country be known as "the Upper Republic of Macedonia."

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The countries are expected to react to the proposal by mid-May.

Others, however, said the EU seems determined to come up with a way to let Macedonia begin negotiations without being conditioned by Greece.

"The name dispute will not be resolved any time soon. But a way will be found for Macedonia to begin the accession negotiations with the EU. That is why, through our behaviour, we need to leave Greece as few arguments as possible to prevent such a development," Musliu said.

Should solving the name dispute with Greece be a factor in Macedonia's EU accession process? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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