The need for a solution to the name issue was emphatically highlighted by European Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, at the press conference he gave at the end of his meeting in Brussels with FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.
In his introductory speech, the European Commissioner noted that the series of meetings that the FYROM PM ad today with European officials in Brussels reflect the strong commitment of Europe to the European perspective of FYROM. “The formation of the new government in FYROM is a positive development and reflects the democratic outcome of the December elections,” he added. “This new government marks a new page, a fresh start for the country that leaves behind a crisis that has lasted long,” he added. But he did not fail to point out that “we should not rest, as there is still a lot of work to be done to bring the country back to the Euro-Atlantic orbit.”
As regards the EU’s expectation of the new government, the European Commissioner noted that the government should work with the opposition to promote reforms and create a climate of national consensus on convergence with Europe, above political or ethnic lines. He also particularly stressed the importance of promoting the European Reform Agenda for FYROM and its citizens.
Referring to the content of today’s talks, Johannes Hahn noted that the Prime Minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia provided an update on the steps it has taken or is planning to take regarding the implementation of reforms, as well as on improving good neighborly relations which. according to the European Commissioner, are “equally critical”. “We discussed the next urgent steps and assured him that the Commission is ready to help in any way,” he added, stressing that “all this is important in order to bring the country back on track for European integration.”
In a question about the country’s prospects for EU membership, the European Commissioner clarified, among other things, that all Member States need to be in agreement. “I appreciate the Prime Minister’s efforts to meet his neighbors immediately and to seek personal communication with the Prime Ministers of Greece and Bulgaria,” he said.
Specifically regarding the name issue, the Commissioner noted: “I think it is important to find a solution to the name issue and to have make a ‘forward leap’. This is possible if there is mutual trust and that is why it is important to build a personal relationship. There is now a mutual understanding that we need to make progress on this issue, which is so important for the further integration of the wider region with Europe. If we work with ‘open horizons’ in these discussions and there is a will, there is always a way to move forward and we shall work towards this by recognizing the different views of the parties involved so that we can reach a solution that is acceptable to all parties”.
Responding to another question, Johannes Hahn underlined the need to reach a compromise: “A good compromise,” he explained, “happens when everyone takes a small step back from their positions to finally win more in return and that’s exactly what we are trying to do now. It will not be easy, many have tried this many times in the past, but I think there is now another ‘wind’ and I hope we can use this juncture for progress”.
Asked, moreover, whether it is technically feasible and politically desirable for FYROM’s accession process to proceed through the use of its provisional name, the European Commissioner reiterated that in order to open negotiations or open chapters, the consent of all Member States is needed. “We can not go ahead with interim agreements etc. and so there must be a solution that will be acceptable to all 28 members. We need a unanimous decision for each step, “he repeated./ΙΒΝΑ