The 13th Stabilisation and Association Council between the European Union and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was held today in Brussels. The purpose of the Council was to review the implementation of the Agreement, as it remains at the core of the relationship between the EU and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia until the country’s accession to the EU.
The meeting was chaired by Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Nikola Dimitrov. For the EU, the meeting was co-chaired by High Representative and Vice President of the Commission, Federica Mogherini, while Commissioner Johannes Hahn represented the European Commission. Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Bujar Osmani also participated.
The topics discussed in particular were the fulfilment of political and economic criteria. As for the political criteria, the Council welcomed the intention of the new government to address outstanding reform issues in an inclusive, transparent and coherent manner. It recalled the importance that the government, together with the opposition, implements their commitments under the Pržino agreement and the urgent reform priorities.
It discussed the need to establish accountability for the wiretaps and the attacks in the Assembly on 27 April, to ensure judicial independence, freedom of media, freedom of expression, respect of human rights and public administration reform. The Council called for more long-term confidence-building measures, at political level, and more pro-active policies to further increase trust and build bridges among communities.
“We agreed that regional co-operation and good neighbourly relations remain essential and we welcome the first steps taken by the new government”, said High Representative Federica Mogherini. “You welcome the country’s active participation and constructive approach in regional cooperation initiatives|, she added.
Regarding the economic criteria, the Council welcomed the commitment of the government to invest greater efforts into increasing the absorption of EU funds. It noted the importance of sound financial management and the need for full compliance with the sector approach criteria, especially in public finance management, transport and the justice sector.
The Council noted progress in various areas covered by the Stabilisation and Association Agreement and welcomed the high level of trade integration with the EU. It outlined the importance of continuing to align with the EU acquis, especially in relation to the internal market, and the need to meet other international commitments, for instance on energy and transport connectivity.
“We agreed that we will continue on discussing with all stakeholders, including opposition. For the Commission, it is important to approach everybody”, Commissioner Hahn concluded.
Dimitrov rejects FYROM acronym as permanent name
“When you say FYROM, that has as much reference to my country as Klingon”. It is the answer by Nikola Dimitrov, Foreign Minister of Former Yogoslav of Macedonia (FYROM), when he was asked in Brussels today about the possibility of adopting an acronym as a name for his country.
At the press conference, minister Dimitrov rejected the suggestion of the acronym suggestion and refered to the Star Trek TV series monster “Klingon”. “Another form of compromise is possible with Greece”, he said. “I really believe we cannot resolve if one of the two parties will be quote unquote ‘defeated,'” he added.
The name problem came to the fore after Skopje gained independence after the collapse of ex Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Greece has vetoed Skopje’s attempts to join NATO since 2008, because Macedonia is a Greek region, where Alexander the Great’s ancient kingdom lied.
Last month, FYROM’s new prime minister Zoran Zaev suggested that his country could join NATO and the EU under a provisional name in a bid to end the row/IBNA