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EU/FYROM : MEPS WANT EARLY LAUNCH OF ACCESSION TALKS WITH SKOPJE.

The European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) has sent a strong signal of its support for a quick start of accession negotiations with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). In a draft motion for resolution on the FYROM 2009 progress report, adopted on 27 January, MEPs called on the European Council to give the green light, at its March 2010 summit, to the opening of accession negotiations with Skopje. "This is a strong political signal of the political will of the Parliament to other institutions and to the countries in the region that we need to speed up the process of entering of Macedonia into full membership of the EU," said Zoran Thaler (S&D, Slovenia), the rapporteur on FYROM, during the debate preceding the vote.

Due to reservations expressed by Greece with regard to the long-standing spat with the FYROM on the name issue', the EU's leaders postponed, in December 2009, their decision on the opening of accession talks with Skopje until their March 2010 summit. By putting off the start of talks, the EU's leaders disregarded the European Commission's opinion. In mid-October, the EU executive recommended the launch of talks with the FYROM, noting that "the country meets sufficiently the political criteria set by the Copenhagen European Council in 1993".

The solution of the name dispute with Greece was also qualified by Erwan Fouere, the EU's special representative to the FYROM, as crucial for the country's EU bid. Fouere briefed the Foreign Affairs Committee on the situation in Macedonia during the debate that preceded the vote. "I have reiterated and we continue to reiterate to the [Macedonian] government the vital importance of finding a solution to the name issue," he said, welcoming some positive steps taken by both cabinets in the end of 2009 to improve the climate and facilitate the negotiation process. "There have been very positive meetings between the two prime ministers that helped to create trust," Fouere said, warning that a failure to find a solution could "provoke instability".

The draft report confirms Parliament's support for the UN-led talks between Athens and Skopje, and calls on the EU to stay ready to assist in the negotiation process.

On Macedonia's progress towards EU integration, the draft report says Skopje has to reform its public administration and its judiciary, intensify the fight against corruption and improve women's rights and interethnic relations. With regard to the tense ethnic situation in the country, the document calls on all the communities and their leaders to respect the sensitivities of the other groups and in particular to refrain from using inflammatory language and provocative symbols.

NAME DISPUTE

Greece has prevented the international recognition of Macedonia under this name since 1991, arguing that it belongs exclusively to the Greek national heritage. Two years after its independence, in 1993, Macedonia was admitted to the UN under the temporary name of FYROM. The name has since been the subject of talks under UN auspices.

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Publication:European Report
Geographic Code:4EXMA
Date:Jan 29, 2010
Words:492
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