Interview with the deputy prime minister of European integration in Skopje, Fatmir Besimi, who talks about the progress report on FYROM, the evaluations and recommendations of this report, the obligations that the country must meet, the issue of reforms and engagement of the government in the path of European and Atlantic integration. In the past few days, deputy prime minister Besimi has been one of the key debaters in parliament, which is discussing the progress report and the obligations that the country must meet
Interviewed by Naser Pajaziti
How do you consider the latest progress report, where, although there’s been a recommendation for the sixth time in a row for the opening of negotiations for accession, it says that the country is in an impasse?
It’s very important that in this report, the European Commission (EC) recommends to the EU Council the start of negotiations for accession, but equally important are also the recommendations according to which, we must make progress in the period to come. This time, we must admit that we’re not the best example in the region. Criticism is an example of the successful ones and those who can do better. I believe that this has been the approach of the European Commission this time, believing that the country can do better.
But, besides this, it was underlined that the country is in an impasse and that there have been deadlocks in the aspect of reforms and European integration.
In spite of the comments in the opinion, I believe that for us, every word and topic raised before us is important, in order to fulfill all the issues raised as part of the recommendation. We must seriously understand this and we’re seriously working on these topics as this is in the best interest of the citizens.
But, what are those priorities and where will you be focused, given the recommendations and complaints issued by the European Commission?
We must work with self control, while the priorities are the freedom of speech, good cross ethnic relations, political dialogue and good neighboring relations. It’s important not to veer off the European agenda at this time. We will have lots of work to do in the EU path and we don’t give up on this. I’d like to add that the report has identified a large number of domains, which have seen great progress, such as regional cooperation, fight against organized crime, reform in the public administration, economic reform, the strengthening of the market economy, reduction of unemployment, growth of GDP, etc.
What is the agenda of your institution relating to the process of European integration?
We must focus on the challenges and we will not lose the focus on the agenda of reforms. We have planned intensive activities for the preparation of an action plan. In cooperation with other government agencies and NGOs, we will also hold meetings and debates in order to offer maximum contribution for a positive progress in the future. This debate also has other factors who can offer their complaints and concerns.
Another problem relates to the lack of political dialogue. We have the boycott of the opposition and a situation that reflects the political crisis in the country?
It’s a known fact that the lack of open and political dialogue doesn’t have a positive impact in the image of our country. The messages of the European Commission will be addressed seriously because it’s necessary for everyone to show responsibility in overcoming pending issues. The debates which are being held in parliament for the progress report would be more powerful if we had the opposition in it. I have praised the decision of the Albanian Democratic Party (PDSH) in opposition to come back to parliament. I would have liked MPs of the Macedonian opposition to do this too.
Did the report also make negative evaluations about the failure to fulfill the obligations of the Ohrid Agreement, which relates to the advancement of the rights of Albanians and cross ethnic relations too?
As far as cross ethnic relations are concerned, the government will continue to make efforts in order to improve trust between ethnic communities and mutual tolerance. This whole process will be realized through the implementation of the Ohrid Agreement. We’re also focused in this aspect and the necessary progress must be made.
After all these domestic issues, we have the main issue of the name dispute with Greece, which is blocking European integration. What can you tell us about this and how do you assess this challenge?
The issue of the name dispute has been underlined in the part of the good `neighboring relations and it’s certainly the main point of the European integration aspect. The European Commission has stressed the need to take decisive action in order to overcome the name dispute issue, as this issue has a negative impact in the process of EU accession. But, the EU’s evaluation must not be used as a pretext to justify the blockage of reforms, but as a challenge that must be overcome. /ibna/